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THE   POETICAL  WORKS 

OF 

WILLIAM  B.  YEATS 

Volume  I  —  Lyrical  Poems 


mjt&y&&o. 


THE  POETICAL  WORKS 

OF 

WILLIAM  B.  YEATS 


I2V  TWO   VOLUMES 


Volume  I 
LYRICAL   POEMS 


THE   MACMILLAN    COMPANY 

LONDON:   MACMILLAN  &  CO.,  Ltd. 

1908 

All  rights  reserved 


COPTRIGHT,    1906, 

By  THE   MACMILLAN   COMPANY. 


Set  up  and  electrotyped.     Published  November,  1906.     Reprinted 
October,  1908. 


NarniDoa  $tess 

J.  8.  Cushing  Co.  —  Berwick  &  Smith  Co. 

Norwood,  Mass.,  U.S.A. 


! 

A3 

PREFACE 

When  I  was  in  America  two  or  three  years 
ago,  I  lectured  at  the  Irish  College  of  San  Jose, 
and  as  I  went  through  the  quadrangle  to  the 
lecture  hall  the  moonlight  fell  among  the  palm 
trees.  I  remember  how  strange  and  foreign 
all  that  beauty  seemed  to  me;  and  yet  the 
lads  I  spoke  to  were  moved,  as  I  thought,  by 
the  imaginative  tradition  that  would  have 
moved  them  at  home.  It  seemed  to  me  that 
they  knew  the  history  and  the  ballad  poetry 
as  I  did,  and  were  moved  as  I  had  been  at  their 
age  by  Davis's  "  Lament  for  Owen  Roe  "  or  by 
Mangan's  "  Ode  to  the  Maguire."  I  was  able  to 
forget  the  palm  trees,  and  to  say  what  I  would 
have  said  to  young  men  in  Dublin  or  in  Con- 
nacht.  As  I  am  looking  over  the  proof  sheets 
of  these  two  books,  where  I  have  gathered 


VI  PREFACE 

for  the  first  time  all  of  my  poetry  I  have  any 
liking  for,  San  Jose  comes  into  my  head  with 
the  thought  that  I  also  have  been  true  to  that 
tradition  as  I  understand  it. 

When  I  began  to  write,  I  belonged  to  a 
Young  Ireland  Society  in  Dublin,  and  wished 
to  be  as  easily  understood  as  the  Young  Ire- 
land writers,  —  to  write  always  out  of  the  com- 
mon thought  of  the  people.  I  have  put  the 
poems  written  while  I  was  influenced  by  this 
desire,  though  with  an  always  lessening  force, 
into  those  sections  which  I  have  called 
"Early  Poems."  I  read  them  now  with  no 
little  discontent,  for  I  find,  especially  in  the 
ballads,  some  triviality  and  sentimentality. 
Mangan  and  Davis  are  not  sentimental  and 
trivial,  but  I  became  so  from  an  imitation 
that  was  not  natural  to  me.  When  I  was 
writing  the  poems  in  the  last  of  the  three,  the 
section  called  "The  Rose,"  I  found  that  I  was 
becoming  unintelligible   to   the    young   men 


PREFACE  vii 

who  had  been  in  my  thought.  We  have  still 
the  same  tradition,  but  I  have  been  like  a 
traveller  who  having  when  newly  arrived  in 
the  city  noticed  nothing  but  the  news  of  the 
marketplace,  the  songs  of  the  workmen,  the 
great  public  buildings,  has  come  after  certain 
months  to  let  his  thoughts  run  upon  some  little 
carving  in  its  niche,  some  Ogham  on  a  stone, 
or  the  conversation  of  a  countryman  who 
knows  more  of  the  "Boar  without  Bristles" 
than  of  the  daily  paper.  When  like  that  trav- 
eller grown  unintelligible  irt  the  marketplace, 
I  would  explain  myself,  I  have  not  been  able 
always  to  convince  the  hearer  that  I  have 
been  no  farther  than  to  the  old  man  who  brings 
in  his  creels  of  turf  upon  a  Saturday.  But 
now  I  am  half  returning  to  my  first  ambi- 
tion, for  though  I  keep  my  new  knowledge 
in  my  head,  I  am  no  longer  writing  for  a  few 
friends  here  and  there,  but  am  asking  my  own 
people  to  listen,  as  many  as  can  find  their  way 


viii  PREFACE 

into  the  Abbey  Theatre  in  Dublin  or  some 
provincial  one  when  our  company  is  on  tour. 
Perhaps  one  can  explain  in  plays,  where  one 
has  much  more  room  than  in  songs  and 
ballads,  even  those  intricate  thoughts,  those 
elaborate  emotions,  that  are  one's  self. 

W.   B.   YEATS. 

In  the  Seven  Woods,  July,  1906. 


CONTENTS 


Early  Poems:   I.  Ballad  and  Lyrics  _,.. 

PAGB 

To  Some  I  have  talked  with  by  the  Fire      .  5 

The  Song  of  the  Happy  Shepherd         .        .  7 

The  Sad  Shepherd 11 

The  Cloak,  the  Boat,  and  the  Shoes     .        .  14 

Anashuya  and  Vijaya 16 

The  Indian  upon  God 25 

The  Indian  to  his  Love  .        .        .         .28 

The  Falling  of  the  Leaves    .        .        .        .30 

Ephemera 31 

The  Madness  of  King  Goll    ....  34 

The  Stolen  Child 39 

To  an  Isle  in  the  Water         ....  43 

Down  by  the  Sally  Gardens           ...  45 

The  Meditation  of  the  Old  Fisherman          .  47 

The  Ballad  of  Father  O'Hart        ...  49 

The  Ballad  of  Moll  Magee    ....  52 

The  Ballad  of  the  Foxhunter        ...  57 


\ 


IX 


CONTENTS 


Early  Poems  :  II.  The  Wanderings  of  Oisin 

PAGE 

Book  I 67 

Book  II 95 

Book  III 119 

Early  Poems  :  III.  The  Rose 

To  the  Rose  upon  the  Rood  of  Time    .        .  ^155 

Fergus  and  the  Druid 157 

The  Death  of  Cuchulain        ....  161 

The  Rose  of  the  World          ....  170 

The  Rose  of  Peace 172 

The  Rose  of  Battle 174 

A  Faery  Song 177 

The  Lake  Isle  of  Innisfree    ....  179 

A  Cradle  Song 181 

The  Pity  of  Love 182 

The  Sorrow  of  Love 183 

When  You  are  Old 185 

The  White  Birds 186 

A  Dream  of  Death 188 

A  Dream  of  a  Blessed  Spirit          .         .         .  189 

The  Man  who  dreamed  of  Faeryland    .         .  191 
The  Dedication  to  a  Book  of  Stories  selected 

from  the  Irish  Novelists         .         .         .195 

The  Lamentation  of  the  Old  Pensioner        .  .198 
The  Ballad  of  Father  Gilligan      .         .         .199 

The  Two  Trees 203 

To  Ireland  in  the  Coming  Times  .         .         .  206 


CONTENTS 


XI 


The  Wind  among  the  Reeds 

^0*  The  Hoisting  of  the  Sidhe 
^*  The  Everlasting  Voices 
^   The  Moods     . 

The  Lover  tells  of  the  Rose  in  his  Heart 

The  Host  of  the  Air      . 

The  Fisherman 

A  Cradle  Song 

Into  the  Twilight  . 

The  Song  of  Wandering  Aengus  . 

The  Song  of  the  Old  Mother 

The  Fiddler  of  Dooney 

The  Heart  of  the  Woman      .... 

The  Lover  mourns  for  the  Loss  of  Love 

He  mourns  for  the  Change  that  has  come 
upon  him  and  his  Beloved  and  longs 
for  the  End  of  the  World 

He  bids  his  Beloved  be  at  Peace 

He  reproves  the  Curlew 

He  remembers  Forgotten  Beauty 

A  Poet  to  his  Beloved    . 

He  gives  his  Beloved  Certain  Rhymes 

To  my  Heart  bidding  it  have  no  Fear 

The  Cap  and  Bells 

The  Valley  of  the  Black  Pig 

The  Lover  asks  Forgiveness  because  of  his 
Many  Moods 


PAGE 

213 
215 
216 
217 
219 
223 
224 
226 
228 
230 
231 
233 
234 


235 
237 
239 
240 
242 
243 
244 
245 
248 

250 


Xll 


CONTENTS 


PAGE 

He  tells  of  a  Valley  full  of  Lovers        .        .  252 

He  tells  of  the  Perfect  Beauty       .         .         .  254 

He  hears  the  Cry  of  the  Sedge      .        .        .  255 
He  thinks  of  those  who  have  spoken  Evil  of 

his  Beloved 256 

The  Blessed 257 

The  Secret  Rose 260 

The  Lover  mourns  because  of  his  Wander- 
ings           263 

The  Travail  of  Passion  .        .        .        .264 

The  Lover  pleads  with  his  Friend  for  Old 

Friends 266 

A  Lover  speaks  to  the  Hearers  of  his  Songs 

in  Coming  Days 267 

The  Poet  pleads  with  the  Elemental  Powers  269 

He  wishes  his  Beloved  were  Dead         .         .  271 

He  wishes  for  the  Cloths  of  Heaven      .         .  272 
He  thinks  of  his  Past  Greatness  when  a  Part 

of  the  Constellations  of  Heaven     .        .  273 


In  the  Seven  Woods 
In  the  Seven  Woods 
The  Arrow     .... 
The  Folly  of  being  Comforted 
Old  Memory  .... 
Never  give  All  the  Heart 
The  Withering  of  the  Boughs 


277 
279 
280 
281 
283 
284 


CONTENTS  xiii 

PAGE 

Adam's  Curse 288 

Red  Hanrahan's  Song  about  Ireland     .        .  292 
The  Old  Men  admiring  Themselves  in  the 

Water 294 

Under  the  Moon 295 

Chorus  for  a  Play 298 

The  Players  ask  for  a  Blessing  on  the  Psal- 
teries and  Themselves    ....  301 
The  Happy  Townland 303 

The  Old  Age  of  Queen  Maeve    .        .        .  307 

Baile  and  Aillinn 323 


EAELY   POEMS 
I 

BALLADS  AND  LYRICS 


VOL.    I.  —  B 


The  stars  are  threshed,  and  the  souls  are  threshed  from 
their  husks.  —  William  Blake. 


To  A.  E. 


/ 


TO  SOME  I  HAVE  TALKED  WITH  BY 

THE  FIRE.  A  DEDICATION  TO  A 

VOLUME  OF  EARLY  POEMS 

While   I  wrought   out   these   fitful  Danaan 

rhymes, 
My  heart  would  brim  with  dreams  about  the 

times 
When  we  bent  down  above  the  fading  coals; 
And  talked  of  the  dark  folk,  who  live  in  souls 
Of  passionate  men,  like  bats  in  the  dead  trees ; 
And  of  the  wayward  twilight  companies, 
Who  sigh  with  mingled  sorrow  and  content, 
Because  their  blossoming  dreams  have  never 

bent 

Under  the  fruit  of  evil  and  of  good ; 

5 


6         TO   SOME  I  HAVE  TALKED    WITH 

And  of  the  embattled  flaming  multitude 
Who  rise,   wing   above   wing,   flame   above 

flame, 
And,  like  a  storm,  cry  the  Ineffable  Name; 
And  with  the  clashing  of  their  sword  blades 

make 
A  rapturous  music,  till  the  morning  break, 
And  the  white  hush  end  all,  but  the  loud  beat 
Of  their  long  wings,  the  flash  of  their  white 

feet. 


THE  SONG  OF  THE  HAPPY  SHEPHERD 

The  woods  of  Arcady  are  dead, 
And  over  is  their  antique  joy; 
Of  old  the  world  on  dreaming  fed ; 
Gray  Truth  is  now  her  painted  toy ; 
Yet  still  she  turns  her  restless  head : 
But  0,  sick  children  of  the  world, 
Of  all  the  many  changing  things 
In  dreary  dancing  past  us  whirled, 
To  the  cracked  tune  that  Chronos  sings, 
Words  alone  are  certain  good. 
Where  are  now  the  warring  kings, 
Word  be-mockers  ?  —  By  the  Rood 

Where  are  now  the  warring  kings  ? 

7 


8  THE  SONG   OF  THE  HAPPY  SHEPHERD 

An  idle  word  is  now  their  glory, 
By  the  stammering  schoolboy  said, 
Reading  some  entangled  story : 
The  kings  of  the  old  time  are  fled. 
The  wandering  earth  herself  may  be 
Only  a  sudden  flaming  word, 
In  clanging  space  a  moment  heard, 
Troubling  the  endless  reverie. 

Then  no  wise  worship  dusty  deeds, 

Nor  seek ;  for  this  is  also  sooth ; 

To  hunger  fiercely  after  truth, 

Lest  all  thy  toiling  only  breeds 

New   dreams,    new   dreams;    there   is   no 

truth 
Saving  in  thine  own  heart.    Seek,  then, 
No  learning  from  the  starry  men, 


THE  SONG  OF  THE  HAPPY  SHEPHERD      9 

Who  follow  with  the  optic  glass 

The  whirling  ways  of  stars  that  pass  — 

Seek,  then,  for  this  is  also  sooth, 

No  word  of  theirs  —  the  cold  star-bane 

Has    cloven    and    rent    their    hearts    in 

twain, 
And  dead  is  all  their  human  truth. 
Go  gather  by  the  humming  sea 
Some  twisted,  echo-harbouring  shell, 
And  to  its  lips  thy  story  tell, 
And  they  thy  comforters  will  be, 
Rewording  in  melodious  guile, 
Thy  fretful  words  a  little  while, 
Till  they  shall  singing  fade  in  ruth, 
And  die  a  pearly  brotherhood; 
For  words  alone  are  certain  good : 
Sing,  then,  for  this  is  also  sooth. 


10    THE  SONG   OF  THE  HAPPY  SHEPHERD 

I  must  be  gone :  there  is  a  grave 

Where  daffodil  and  lily  wave, 

And  I  would  please  the  hapless  faun, 

Buried  under  the  sleepy  ground, 

With  mirthful  songs  before  the  dawn. 

His  shouting  days  with  mirth  were  crowned; 

And  still  I  dream  he  treads  the  lawn, 

Walking  ghostly  in  the  dew, 

Pierced  by  my  glad  singing  through, 

My  songs  of  old  earth's  dreamy  youth : 

But  ah  !  she  dreams  not  now ;  dream  thou ! 

For  fair  are  poppies  on  the  brow : 

Dream,  dream,  for  this  is  also  sooth. 


THE  SAD  SHEPHERD 

There  was  a  man  whom  Sorrow  named  his 

friend, 
And  he,  of  his  high  comrade  Sorrow  dreaming, 
Went  walking  with  slow  steps  along  the  gleam- 
ing 
And  humming  sands,   where  windy   surges 

wend: 
And  he  called  loudly  to  the  stars  to  bend 
From  their  pale  thrones  and  comfort  him,  but 

they 
Among  themselves  laugh  on  and  sing  alway: 
And  then  the  man  whom  Sorrow  named  his 

friend 

ll 


12  THE  SAD   SHEPHERD 

Cried  out,  Dim  sea,  hear  my  most  piteous  story! 
The  sea  swept  on  and  cried  her  old  cry  still, 
Rolling  along  in  dreams  from  hill  to  hill  ; 
He  fled  the  persecution  of  her  glory 
And,  in  a  far-off,  gentle  valley  stopping, 
Cried  all  his  story  to  the  dewdrops  glistening, 
But  naught  they  heard,  for  they  are  always 

Hstening, 
The  dewdrops,  for  the  sound  of  their  own 

dropping. 
And  then  the  man  whom  Sorrow  named  his 

friend, 
Sought  once  again  the  shore,  and  found  a  shell 
And  thought,  /  will  my  heavy  story  tell 
Till  my  own  words,  re-echoing,  shall  send 
Their  sadness  through  a  hollow,  pearly  heart ; 
And  my  own  tale  again  for  me  shall  sing, 


THE  SAD   SHEPHERD  13 

And  my  own  whispering  words  be  comforting 
And  lo!  my  ancient  burden  may  depart. 
Then  he  sang  softly  nigh  the  pearly  rim ; 
But  the  sad  dweller  by  the  sea-ways  lone 
Changed  all  he  sang  to  inarticulate  moan 
Among  her  wildering  whirls,  forgetting  him. 


THE  CLOAK,  THE  BOAT,  AND  THE 

SHOES 

"What  do  you  make  so  fair  and  bright?" 

"I  make  the  cloak  of  Sorrow: 
0,  lovely  to  see  in  all  men's  sight 
Shall  be  the  cloak  of  Sorrow, 
In  all  men's  sight." 


a 


What  do  you  build  with  sails  for  flight  ?" 


"I  build  a  boat  for  Sorrow, 

0,  swift  on  the  seas  all  day  and  night 

Saileth  the  rover  Sorrow, 

All  day  and  night." 

14 


CLOAK,   BOAT  AND  SHOES  15 

"What  do  you  weave  with  wool  so  white?" 

"I  weave  the  shoes  of  Sorrow, 
Soundless  shall  be  the  footfall  light 
In  all  men's  ears  of  Sorrow, 
Sudden  and  light." 


ANASHUYA  AND  VIJAYA 

A  little  Indian  temple  in  the  Golden  Age. 
Around  it  a  garden;  around  that  the  forest. 
Anashuya,  the  young  priestess,  kneeling 
within  the  temple. 

Anashuya.   Send  peace  on  all  the  lands  and 

flickering  corn.  — 
0,  may  tranquillity  walk  by  his  elbow 
When  wandering  in  the  forest,  if  he  love 
No    other.  —  Hear,    and   may    the   indolent 

flocks 
Be  plentiful.  —  And  if  he  love  another, 
May  panthers  end  him.  —  Hear,  and  load  our 

king 

16 


ANASHUYA  AND   VIJATA  17 

With  wisdom  hour  by  hour.  —  May  we  two 

stand, 
When  we  are  dead,  beyond  the  setting  suns, 
A  little  from  the  other  shades  apart, 
With    mingling    hair,    and    play    upon    one 
lute. 
Vijaya  [entering  and  throwing  a  lily  at  her]. 
Hail !  hail,  my  Anashuya. 

No :  be  still. 
I,  priestess  of  this  temple,  offer  up 
Prayers  for  the  land. 
Vijaya.  I  will  wait  here,  Amrita. 

Anashuya.   By  mighty  Brahma's  ever  rus- 
tling robe, 
Who  is  Amrita  ?    Sorrow  of  all  sorrows ! 
Another  fills  your  mind. 
Vijaya.  My  mother's  name. 

VOL.   1. C 


18  ANASRUYA  AND    VUATA 

Anashuya  [sings,  coming  out  of  the  temple]. 
A  sad,  sad  thought  went  by  me  slowly : 
Sigh,  0  you  little  stars!    0,  sigh  and  shake 

your  blue  apparel! 
The  sad,  sad  thought   has  gone  from  me  now 

wholly : 
Sing,  0  you  little  stars!    0  sing,  and  raise 

your  rapturous  carol 
To  mighty  Brahma,  he  who  made  you  many  as 

the  sands, 
And  laid  you  on  the  gates  of  evening  with  his 

quiet  hands. 

[Sits  down  on  the  steps  of  the  temple.] 
Vijaya,  I  have  brought  my  evening  rice; 
The  sun  has  laid  his  chin  on  the  gray  wood, 
Weary,  with  all  his  poppies  gathered  round 

him. 


AN  ASH  UYA   AND   VIJAYA  19 

Vijaya.   The    hour   when   Kama,    full    of 
sleepy  laughter, 
Rises,  and  showers  abroad  his  fragrant  arrows, 
Piercing  the  twilight  with  their  murmuring 
barbs. 
Anashuya.  See  how  the  sacred  old   fla- 
mingoes come, 
Painting  with  shadow  all  the  marble  steps : 
Aged  and  wise,  they  seek  their  wonted  perches 
Within  the  temple,  devious  walking,  made 
To  wander  by  their  melancholy  minds. 
Yon  tall  one  eyes  my  supper;   swiftly  chase 

him 
Far,  far  away.     I  named  him  after  you. 
He  is  a  famous  fisher ;  hour  by  hour 
He  ruffles  with  his  bill  the  minnowed  streams. 
Ah !   there  he  snaps  my  rice.     I  told  you  so. 


20  ANASHUYA  AND   VIJAYA 

Now   cuff  him   off.     He's  off!    A  kiss  for 

you, 
Because  you  saved  my  rice.    Have  you  no 

thanks  ? 
Vijaya.  [sings].   Sing  you  of  her,  0  first  few 

stars, 
Whom    Brahma,    touching    with    his    finger, 

praises,  for  you  hold 
The  van  of  wandering  quiet;    ere  you  be  too 

calm  and  old, 
Sing,  turning  in  your  cars, 
Sing,  till  you  raise  your  hands  and  sigh,  and 

from  your  car  heads  peer, 
With  all  your   whirling  hair,  and  drop  tear 

upon  azure  tear. 
Anashuya.   What  know  the  pilots  of  the 

stars  of  tears? 


ANASHUTA   AND    YUAYA  21 

Vijaya.   Their  faces  are  all  worn,  and  in 

their  eyes 
Flashes  the  fire  of  sadness,  for  they  see 
The  icicles  that  famish  all  the  north, 
Where    men   lie    frozen    in   the   glimmering 

snow; 
And  in  the  flaming  forests  cower  the  lion 
And  lioness,  with  all  their  whimpering  cubs; 
And,  ever  pacing  on  the  verge  of  things, 
The  phantom,  Beauty,  in  a  mist  of  tears ; 
While  we  alone  have  round  us  woven  woods, 
And  feel  the  softness  of  each  other's  hand, 

Amrita,  while 

Anashuya  [going  away  from  him].  Ah  me, 

you  love  another, 

[Bursting  into  tears.] 
And  may  some  dreadful  ill  befall  her  quick ! 


22  ANASEUYA  AND    VIJAYA 

Vijaya.   I  loved  another;    now  I  love  no 
other. 
Among  the  mouldering  of  ancient  woods 
You  live,  and  on  the  village  border  she, 
With  her  old  father  the  blind  wood-cutter ; 
I     saw     her    standing    in    her    door    but 
now. 
Anashuya.  Vijaya,  swear  to  love  her  never 

more. 
Vijaya.  Ay,  ay. 

Anashuya.        Swear  by  the  parents  of 
the  gods, 
Dread  oath,  who  dwell  on  sacred  Himalay, 
On  the  far  Golden  Peak ;  enormous  shapes, 
Who  still  were  old  when  the  great  sea  was 

young; 
On  their  vast  faces  mystery  and  dreams ; 


ANASHUTA   AND   VIJAYA  23 

Their  hair  along  the  mountains  rolled  and 

filled 
From  year  to  year  by  the  unnumbered  nests 
Of    aweless    birds,  and   round   their   stirless 

feet 
The  joyous  flocks  of  deer  and  antelope, 
Who  never  hear  the  unforgiving  hound. 
Swear ! 
Vijaya.       By  the  parents  of  the  gods,  I 

swear. 
Anashuya  [sings],   I  have  forgiven,  0  new 

star! 
Maybe  you  have  not  heard  of  us,  you  have 

come  forth  so  newly, 
You  hunter  of  the  fields  afar! 
Ah,  you  will  know  my  loved  one  by  his  hunter's 

arrows  truly, 


24  ANASHUYA  AND   VIJATA 

Shoot  on  him  shafts  of  quietness,  that  he  may 

ever  keep 
An  inner  laughter,  and  may  kiss  his  hands  to 

me  in  sleep. 

Farewell,  Vijaya.    Nay,  no  word,  no  word; 
I,  priestess  of  this  temple,  offer  up    x 
Prayers  for  the  land.  [Vijaya  goes.] 

0  Brahma,  guard  in  sleep 
The  merry  lambs  and  the  complacent  kine, 
The  flies  below  the  leaves,  and  the  young  mice 
In  the  tree  roots,  and  all  the  sacred  flocks 
Of  red  flamingo;  and  my  love,  Vijaya; 
And  may  no  restless  fay  with  fidget  finger 
Trouble  his  sleeping :  give  him  dreams  of  me. 


THE  INDIAN  UPON  GOD 

I  passed  along  the  water's  edge  below  the 

humid  trees, 
My  spirit  rocked  in  evening  light,  the  rushes 

round  my  knees, 
My  spirit  rocked  in  sleep  and  sighs;  and  saw 

the  moorfowl  pace 
All  dripping  on  a  grassy  slope,  and  saw  them 

cease  to  chase 
Each  other  round  in  circles,  and  heard  the 

eldest  speak : 
Who  holds  the  world  between  His  bill  and  made 

us  strong  or  weak 
Is  an  undying  moorfowl,  and  He  lives  beyond 

the  sky. 

25 


26  THE  INDIAN   UPON  GOD 

The  rains  are  from  His  dripping  wing,  the 

moonbeams  from  his  eye. 
I  passed  a  little  further  on  and  heard  a  lotus 

talk: 
Who  made  the  world  and  ruleth  it,  He  hangeth 

on  a  stalk, 
For  I  am  in  His  image  made,  and  all  this 

tinkling  tide 
Is  but  a  sliding  drop  of  rain   between   His 

petals  wide. 
A  little  way  within  the  gloom  a  roebuck  raised 

his  eyes 
Brimful    of    starlight,    and    he    said:     The 

Stamper  of  the  Skies, 

He  is  a  gentle  roebuck;  for  how  else,  I  pray, 

could  he 
Conceive  a  thing  so  sad  and  soft,  a  gentle  thing 
like  me  ? 


THE  INDIAN   UPON  GOD  27 

I  passed  a  little   further  on  and  heard  a 

peacock  say: 
Who  made  the  grass  and  made  the  worms  and 

made  my  feathers  gay, 
He  is  a  monstrous  peacock,  and  He  waveth  all 

the  night 
His  languid  tail  above  us,  lit  with  myriad  spots 

of  light. 


THE  INDIAN  TO  HIS  LOVE 

The  island  dreams  under  the  dawn 
And  great  boughs  drop  tranquillity  ; 
The  peahens  dance  on  a  smooth  lawn, 
A  parrot  sways  upon  a  tree, 
Raging  at  his  own  image  in  the  enamelled 
sea. 

Here  we  will  moor  our  lonely  ship 
And  wander  ever  with  woven  hands, 
Murmuring  softly  lip  to  lip, 
Along  the  grass,  along  the  sands, 
Murmuring  how  far  away  are  the  unquiet 
lands : 

28 


THE  INDIAN  TO  HIS  LOVE  29 

How  we  alone  of  mortals  are 
Hid  under  quiet  boughs  apart, 
While  our  love  grows  an  Indian  star, 
A  meteor  of  the  burning  heart, 
One  with  the  tide  that  gleams,  the  wings  that 
gleam  and  dart, 

The  heavy  boughs,  the  burnished  dove 
That  moans  and  sighs  a  hundred  days : 
How  when  we  die  our  shades  will  rove, 
When  eve  has  hushed  the  feathered  ways, 
Dropping  a  vapoury  footsole  on  the  tide's 
drowsy  blaze. 


THE    FALLING    OF    THE    LEAVES 

Autumn  is  over  the  long  leaves  that  love  us, 
And  over  the  mice  in  the  barley  sheaves; 
Yellow  the  leaves  of  the  rowan  above  us, 
And  yellow  the  wet  wild-strawberry  leaves. 

The  hour  of  the  waning  of  love  has  beset  us, 
And  weary  and  worn  are  our  sad  souls  now; 
Let  us  part,  ere  the  season  of  passion  forget 

us, 
With  a  kiss  and  a  tear  on  thy  drooping  brow. 


30 


EPHEMERA 


k 


Your  eyes  that  once  were  never  weary  of 

mine 
Are  bowed  in  sorrow  under  their  trembling 

lids, 
Because  our  love  is  waning." 

And  then  she : 
"  Although  our  love  is  waning,  let  us  stand 
By  the  lone  border  of  the  lake  once  more, 
Together  in  that  hour  of  gentleness 
When    the    poor  tired   child,  Passion,  falls 

asleep : 
How  far  away  the  stars  seem,  and  how  far 

81 


32  EPHEMERA 

Is  our  first  kiss,  and  ah,  how  old  my  heart ! " 
Pensive  they  paced  along  the  faded  leaves, 
While  slowly  he  whose  hand  held  hers  replied : 
"Passion    has    often    worn    our    wandering 
hearts." 

The  woods  were  round  them,  and  the  yellow 

leaves 
Fell  like  faint  meteors  in  the  gloom,  and  once 
A  rabbit  old  and  lame  limped  down  the  path ; 
Autumn  was  over  him :  and  now  they  stood 
On  the  lone  border  of  the  lake  once  more: 
Turning,  he  saw  that  she  had  thrust  dead 

leaves 
Gathered  in  silence,  dewy  as  her  eyes, 
In  bosom  and  hair. 

"Ah,  do  not  mourn,"  he  said, 


EPHEMERA  33 

"  That  we  are  tired,  for  other  loves  await  us : 
Hate  on  and  love  through  unrepining  hours ; 
Before  us  lies  eternity ;  our  souls 
Are  love,  and  a  continual  farewell." 


VOL.  I.  —  D 


THE  MADNESS  OF  KING  GOLL 

I  sat  on  cushioned  otter  skin  : 
My  word  was  law  from  Ith  to  Emen, 
And  shook  at  Invar  Amargin 
The  hearts  of  the  world-troubling  seamen, 
And  drove  tumult  and  war  away 
From  girl  and  boy  and  man  and  beast ; 
The  fields  grew  fatter  day  by  day, 
The  wild  fowl  of  the  air  increased; 
And  every  ancient  Ollave  said, 
While  he  bent  down  his  fading  head, 
"He  drives  away  the  Northern  cold." 
They  will  not  hush,  the  leaves  a-flutter  round 
me,  the  beech  leaves  old. 

34 


THE  MADNESS  OF  KING   GOLL  35 

I  sat  and  mused  and  drank  sweet  wine ; 
A  herdsman  came  from  inland  valleys, 
Crying,  the  pirates  drove  his  swine 
To  fill  their  dark-beaked  hollow  galleys. 
I  called  my  battle-breaking  men, 
And  my  loud  brazen  battle-cars 
From  rolling  vale  and  rivery  glen; 
And  under  the  blinking  of  the  stars 
Fell  on  the  pirates  by  the  deep, 
And  hurled  them  in  the  gulph  of  sleep : 
These  hands  won  many  a  torque  of  gold. 
They  will  not  hush,  the  leaves  a-flutter  round 
me,  the  beech  leaves  old. 

But  slowly,  as  I  shouting  slew 
And  trampled  in  the  bubbling  mire, 
In  my  most  secret  spirit  grew 


36  THE  MADNESS  OF  KING   GOLL 

A  whirling  and  a  wandering  fire : 
I  stood :  keen  stars  above  me  shone, 
Around  me  shone  keen  eyes  of  men : 
I  laughed  aloud  and  hurried  on 
By  rocky  shore  and  rushy  fen ; 
I  laughed  because  birds  fluttered  by, 
And  starlight  gleamed,  and  clouds  flew  high, 
And  rushes  waved  and  waters  rolled. 
They  will  not  hush,  the  leaves  a-flutter  round 
me,  the  beech  leaves  old. 

And  now  I  wander  in  the  woods 
When  summer  gluts  the  golden  bees, 
Or  in  autumnal  solitudes 
Arise  the  leopard-coloured  trees ; 
Or  when  along  the  wintry  strands 
The  cormorants  shiver  on  their  rocks ; 


THE  MADNESS  OF  KING   GOLL  37 

I  wander  on,  and  wave  my  hands, 
And  sing,  and  shake  my  heavy  locks. 
The  gray  wolf  knows  me ;  by  one  ear 
I  lead  along  the  woodland  deer; 
The  hares  run  by  me  growing  bold. 
They  will  not  hush,  the  leaves  a-flutter  round 
me,  the  beech  leaves  old. 

I  came  upon  a  little  town, 

That  slumbered  in  the  harvest  moon, 

And  passed  a-tiptoe  up  and  down, 

Murmuring,  to  a  fitful  tune, 

How  I  have  followed,  night  and  day, 

A  tramping  of  tremendous  feet, 

And  saw  where  this  old  tympan  lay, 

Deserted  on  a  doorway  seat, 

And  bore  it  to  the  woods  with  me ; 


38  THE  MADNESS   OF  KING   GOLL 

Of  some  unhuman  misery 
Our  married  voices  wildly  trolled. 
They  will  not  hush,  the  leaves  a-flutter  round 
me,  the  beech  leaves  old. 

I  sang  how,  when  day's  toil  is  done, 
Orchil  shakes  out  her  long  dark  hair 
That  hides  away  the  dying  sun 
And  sheds  faint  odours  through  the  air : 
When  my  hand  passed  from  wire  to  wire 
It  quenched,  with  sound  like  falling  dew, 
The  whirling  and  the  wandering  fire ; 
But  lift  a  mournful  ulalu, 
For  the  kind  wires  are  torn  and  still, 
And  I  must  wander  wood  and  hill 
Through  summer's  heat  and  winter's  cold. 
They  will  not  hush,  the  leaves  a-flutter  round 
me,  the  beech  leaves  old. 


THE  STOLEN  CHILD 

Where  dips  the  rocky  highland 
Of  Sleuth  Wood  in  the  lake, 
There  lies  a  leafy  island 
Where  flapping  herons  wake 
The  drowsy  water  rats ; 
There  we've  hid  our  faery  vats. 
Full  of  berries, 

And  of  reddest  stolen  cherries. 
Come  away,  0  human  child! 
To  the  waters  and  the  wild 
With  a  faery,  hand  in  hand, 
For  the  world's  more  full  of  weeping  than  you 
can  understand. 

Where  the  wave  of  moonlight  glosses 
The  dim  gray  sands  with  light, 

39 


40  THE  STOLEN  CHILD 

Far  off  by  furthest  Rosses 
We  foot  it  all  the  night, 
Weaving  olden  dances, 
Mingling  hands  and  mingling  glances 
Till  the  moon  has  taken  flight ; 
To  and  fro  we  leap 
And  chase  the  frothy  bubbles, 
While  the  world  is  full  of  troubles 
And  is  anxious  in  its  sleep. 
Come  away,  0  human  child! 
To  the  waters  and  the  wild 
With  a  faery,  hand  in  hand, 
For  the  world's  more  full  of  weeping  than  you 
can  understand. 

Where  the  wandering  water  gushes 
From  the  hills  above  Glen-Car, 


THE  STOLEN  CHILD  41 

In  pools  among  the  rushes 
That  scarce  could  bathe  a  star, 
We  seek  for  slumbering  trout, 
And  whispering  in  their  ears 
Give  them  unquiet  dreams; 
Leaning  softly  out 
From  ferns  that  drop  their  tears 
Over  the  young  streams, 
Come  away,  0  human  child! 
To  the  waters  and  the  wild 
With  a  faery,  hand  in  hand, 
For  the  world's  more  full  of  weeping  than  you 
can  understand. 

Away  with  us  he's  going, 

The  solemn-eyed : 

He'll  hear  no  more  the  lowing 


42  THE  STOLEN  CHILD 

Of  the  calves  on  the  warm  hillside; 
Or  the  kettle  on  the  hob 
Sing  peace  into  his  breast, 
Or  see  the  brown  mice  bob 
Round  and  round  the  oatmeal-chest. 
For  he  comes,  the  human  child, 
To  the  waters  and  the  wild 
With  a  faery,  hand  in  hand, 
From  a  world  more  full  of  weeping  than  he  can 
understand. 


TO  AN  ISLE  IN  THE  WATER 

Shy  one,  shy  one, 
Shy  one  of  my  heart, 
She  moves  in  the  firelight 
Pensively  apart. 

She  carries  in  the  dishes, 
And  lays  them  in  a  row. 
To  an  isle  in  the  water 
With  her  would  I  go. 

She  carries  in  the  candles, 

And  lights  the  curtained  room, 

Shy  in  the  doorway 

And  shy  in  the  gloom ; 
43 


44  TO  AN  ISLE  IN   THE   WATER 

And  shy  as  a  rabbit, 
Helpful  and  shy. 
To  an  isle  in  the  water 
With  her  would  I  fly. 


DOWN     BY    THE    SALLEY    GARDENS 

Down  by  the  salley  gardens  my  love  and  I 
did  meet ; 

She  passed  the  salley  gardens  with  little  snow- 
white  feet. 

She  bid  me  take  love  easy,  as  the  leaves  grow 
on  the  tree ; 

But  I,  being  young  and  foolish,  with  her 
would  not  agree. 

In  a  field  by  the  river  my  love  and  I  did 

stand, 

And  on  my  leaning  shoulder  she  laid  her 

snow-white  hand. 
45 


46     DOWN  BT  THE  S ALLEY  GARDENS 

She  bid  me  take  life  easy,  as  the  grass  grows 

on  the  weirs; 
But  I  was  young  and  foolish,  and  now  am  full 

of  tears. 


THE  MEDITATION  OF  THE  OLD 
FISHERMAN 

You  waves,  though  you  dance  by  my  feet 

like  children  at  play, 
Though  you  glow  and  you  glance,  though  you 

purr  and  you  dart ; 
In  the  Junes  that  were  warmer  than  these  are, 

the  waves  were  more  gay, 
When  I  was  a  boy  with  never  a  crack  in  my 

heart. 

The  herring  are  not  in  the  tides  as  they  were 

of  old ; 

My  sorrow !   for  many  a  creak  gave  the  creel 

in  the  cart 

47 


48     MEDITATION  OF  THE  OLD  FISHERMAN 

That  carried  the  take  to  Sligo  town  to  be  sold, 
When  I  was  a  boy  with  never  a  crack  in  my 
heart. 

And  ah,  you  proud  maiden,  you  are  not  so 

fair  when  his  oar 
Is  heard  on  the  water,  as  they  were,  the  proud 

and  apart, 
Who  paced  in  the  eve  by  the  nets  on  the 

pebbly  shore, 
When  I  was  a  boy  with  never  a  crack  in  my 

heart. 


THE    BALLAD    OF    FATHER    O'HART 

Good  Father  John  O'Hart 

In  penal  days  rode  out 

To  a  shoneen  who  had  free  lands 

And  his  own  snipe  and  trout. 

In  trust  took  he  John's  lands  ; 

Sleiveens  were  all  his  race  ; 

And  he  gave  them  as  dowers  to  his  daughters, 

And  they  married  beyond  their  place. 

But  Father  John  went  up, 
And  Father  John  went  down ; 
And  he  wore  small  holes  in  his  shoes, 
And  he  wore  large  holes  in  his  gown. 

VOL.  I. E  49 


50  THE  BALLAD  OF  FATHER   6' HART 

All  loved  him,  only  the  shoneen, 

Whom  the  devils  have  by  the  hair, 

From  the  wives,  and  the  cats,  and  the  children, 

To  the  birds  in  the  white  of  the  air. 

The  birds,  for  he  opened  their  cages 

As  he  went  up  and  down ; 

And  he  said  with  a  smile,  "Have  peace  now;" 

And  he  went  his  way  with  a  frown. 

But  if  when  any  one  died 

Came  keeners  hoarser  than  rooks, 

He  bade  them  give  over  their  keening; 

For  he  was  a  man  of  books. 

And  these  were  the  works  of  John, 
When  weeping  score  by  score, 


THE  BALLAD   OF  FATHER   O'HABT     51 

People  came  into  Coloony; 
For  he'd  died  at  ninety-four. 

There  was  no  human  keening; 
The  birds  from  Knocknarea 
And  the  world  round  Knocknashee 
Came  keening  in  that  day. 

The  young  birds  and  old  birds 
Came  flying,  heavy  and  sad; 
Keening  in  from  Tiraragh, 
Keening  from  Ballinafad; 

Keening  from  Inishmurray, 
Nor  stayed  for  bite  or  sup ; 
This  way  were  all  reproved 
Who  dig  old  customs  up. 


THE  BALLAD  OF  MOLL  MAGEE 

Come  round  me,  little  childer; 
There,  don't  fling  stones  at  me 
Because  I  mutter  as  I  go ; 
But  pity  Moll  Magee. 

My  man  was  a  poor  fisher 
With  shore  lines  in  the  say ; 
My  work  was  saltin'  herrings 
The  whole  of  the  long  day. 

And  sometimes  from  the  saltin'  shed, 
I  scarce  could  drag  my  feet 

62 


THE  BALLAD   OF  MOLL  MAGEE        53 

Under  the  blessed  moonlight, 
Along  the  pebbly  street. 

I'd  always  been  but  weakly, 
And  my  baby  was  just  born; 
A  neighbour  minded  her  by  day, 
I  minded  her  till  morn. 

I  lay  upon  my  baby ; 

Ye  little  childer  dear, 

I  looked  on  my  cold  baby 

When  the  morn  grew  frosty  and  clear. 

A  weary  woman  sleeps  so  hard ! 
My  man  grew  red  and  pale, 
And  gave  me  money,  and  bade  me  go 
To  my  own  place  Kinsale. 


54    THE  BALLAD   OF  MOLL  MAGEE 

He  drove  me  out  and  shut  the  door, 
And  gave  his  curse  to  me ; 
I  went  away  in  silence, 
No  neighbour  could  I  see. 

The  windows  and  the  doors  were  shut, 
One  star  shone  faint  and  green; 
The  little  straws  were  turnin'  round 
Across  the  bare  boreen. 

I  went  away  in  silence : 
Beyond  old  Martin's  byre 
I  saw  a  kindly  neighbour 
Blowin'  her  mornin'  fire 

She  drew  from  me  my  story  — 
My  money's  all  used  up, 


THE  BALLAD   OF  MOLL  MAGEE        55 

And  still,  with  pityin',  scornin'  eye, 
She  gives  me  bite  and  sup. 

She  says  my  man  will  surely  come, 
And  fetch  me  home  agin ; 
But  always,  as  I'm  movin'  round, 
Without  doors  or  within, 

Pilin'  the  wood  or  pilin'  the  turf, 
Or  goin'  to  the  well, 
I'm  thinkin'  of  my  baby 
And  keenin'  to  myseP. 

And  sometimes  I  am  sure  she  knows 
When,  openin'  wide  His  door, 
God  lights  the  stars,  His  candles, 
And  looks  upon  the  poor. 


56         THE  BALLAD   OF  MOLL   MAGEE 

So  now,  ye  little  childer, 
Ye  won't  fling  stones  at  me; 
But  gather  with  your  shinin'  looks 
And  pity  Moll  Magee. 

a~~    ye****    « 


/ 


I 


¥*Jt 


THE  BALLAD  OF  THE  FOXHUNTER 

''Now  lay  me  in  a  cushioned  chair 

And  carry  me,  you  four, 

With  cushions  here  and  cushions  there, 

To  see  the  world  once  more. 

And  some  one  from  the  stables  bring 

My  Dermot  dear  and  brown, 

And  lead  him  gently  in  a  ring, 

And  gently  up  and  down. 

"  Now  leave  the  chair  upon  the  grass : 

Bring  hound  and  huntsman  here, 

And  I  on  this  strange  road  will  pass, 

Filled  full  of  ancient  cheer." 
67 


58      THE  BALLAD   OF  THE  FOXEUNTER 

His  eyelids  droop,  his  head  falls  low, 
His  old  eyes  cloud  with  dreams ; 
The  sun  upon  all  things  that  grow 
Pours  round  in  sleepy  streams. 

Brown  Dermot  treads  upon  the  lawn, 
And  to  the  armchair  goes, 
And  now  the  old  man's  dreams  are  gone, 
He  smooths  the  long  brown  nose. 

And  now  moves  many  a  pleasant  tongue 
Upon  his  wasted  hands, 
For  leading  aged  hounds  and  young 
The  huntsman  near  him  stands. 

"My  huntsman,  Rody,  blow  the  horn, 
And  make  the  hills  reply." 


j  THE  BALLAD   OF  THE  FOXHUNTER      59 

The  huntsman  loosens  on  the  morn 
A  gay  and  wandering  cry. 

A  fire  is  in  the  old  man's  eyes, 
His  fingers  move  and  sway, 
And  when  the  wandering  music  dies 
They  hear  him  feebly  say, 

"My  huntsman,  Rody,  blow  the  horn, 
And  make  the  hills  reply," 
"I  cannot  blow  upon  my  horn, 
I  can  but  weep  and  sigh." 

The  servants  round  his  cushioned  place 
Are  with  new  sorrow  wrung; 
And  hounds  are  gazing  on  his  face, 
Both  aged  hounds  and  young. 


60      THE  BALLAD   OF  THE  FOXHUNTER 

One  blind  hound  only  lies  apart 

On  the  sun-smitten  grass ; 

He  holds  deep  commune  with  his  heart : 

The  moments  pass  and  pass ; 

The  blind  hound  with  a  mournful  din 
Lifts  slow  his  wintry  head ; 
The  servants  bear  the  body  in ; 
The  hounds  wail  for  the  dead. 


/ 


EAELY   POEMS 
II 

THE    WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 


Give  me  the  world  if  Thou  wilt,  but  grant  me  an  asylum 
for  my  affections. — Tulka. 


To  Edwin  J.  Ellis 


BOOK  I 


VOL.  I.  —  p 


S.  Patric.   You  who  are  bent,  and  bald, 
and  blind, 
With  a  heavy  heart  and  a  wandering  mind, 
Have  known  three  centuries,  poets  sing, 
Of  dalliance  with  a  demon  thing. 

Oisin.   Sad  to  remember,  sick  with  years, 
The  swift  innumerable  spears, 
The  horsemen  with  their  floating  hair, 
And  bowls  of  barley,  honey,  and  wine, 
And  feet  of  maidens  dancing  in  tune, 
And  the  white  body  that  lay  by  mine ; 
But  the  tale,  though  words  be  lighter  than 

air, 
Must    live    to    be   old   like   the   wandering 

moon. 

67 


68  THE  WANDERINGS   OF  0ISI2T 

Caolte,  and  Conan,  and  Finn  were  there, 
When  we  followed  a  deer  with  our  baying 

hounds, 
With  Bran,  Sgeolan,  and  Lomair, 
And  passing  the  Firbolgs'   burial  mounds, 
Came  to  the  cairn-heaped  grassy  hill 
Where  passionate  Maeve  is  stony  still  ; 
And  found  on  the  dove-gray  edge  of  the  sea 
A  pearl-pale,  high-born  lady,  who  rode 
On  a  horse  with  bridle  of  findrinny ; 
And  like  a  sunset  were  her  lips, 
A  stormy  sunset  on  doomed  ships ; 
A  citron  colour  gloomed  in  her  hair, 
But  down  to  her  feet  white  vesture  flowed, 
And  with  the  glimmering  crimson  glowed 
Of  many  a  figured  embroidery ; 
And  it  was  bound  with  a  pearl-pale  shell 


THE  WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN  69 

That  wavered  like  the  summer  streams, 
As  her  soft  bosom  rose  and  fell. 

S.  Patric.   You  are  still  wrecked  among 
heathen  dreams. 

Oisin.   "  Why  do  you  wind  no  horn  ?  "    she 
said. 
"And  every  hero  droop  his  head? 
The  hornless  deer  is  not  more  sad 
That  many  a  peaceful  moment  had, 
More  sleek  than  any  granary  mouse, 
In  his  own  leafy  forest  house. 
Among  the  waving  fields  of  fern : 
The  hunting  of  heroes  should  be  glad." 

"0  pleasant  maiden,"  answered  Finn, 
"We  think  on  Oscar's  pencilled  urn, 
And  on  the  heroes  lying  slain, 


70  THE  WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

On  Gavra's  raven-covered  plain ; 

But  where  are  your  noble  kith  and  kin, 

And  into  what  country  do  you  ride  ?  " 

"My  father  and  my  mother  are 
Aengus  and  Edain,  and  my  name 
Is  Niamh,  and  my  land  where  tide 
And  sleep  drown  sun  and  moon  and  star." 

"  What  dream  came  with  you  that  you  came 
To  this  dim  shore  on  foam  wet  feet  ? 
Did  your  companion  wander  away 
From  where  the  birds  of  Aengus  wing?" 

She  said,  with  laughter  tender  and  sweet : 
"I  have  not  yet,  war-weary  king, 
Been  spoken  of  with  any  one, 


THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN  71 

For  love  of  Oisin  foam  wet  feet 

Have  borne  me  where  the  tempests  blind 

Your  mortal  shores  till  time  is  done  ! " 

"How  comes  it,  princess,  that  your  mind 

Among  undying  people  has  run 

On  this  young  man,  Oisin,  my  son  ?  " 

"I  loved  no  man,  though  kings  besought 

And  many  a  man  of  lofty  name, 

Until  the  Danaan  poets  came, 

Bringing  me  honeyed,  wandering  thought 

Of  noble  Oisin  and  his  fame, 

Of  battles  broken  by  his  hands, 

Of  stories  builded  by  his  words 

That  are  like  coloured  Asian  birds 

At  evening  in  their  rainless  lands." 


72  THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

0  Patric,  by  your  brazen  bell, 
There  was  no  limb  of  mine  but  fell 
Into  a  desperate  gulph  of  love ! 
"You  only  will  I  wed,"  I  cried, 
"  And  I  will  make  a  thousand  songs, 
And  set  your  name  all  names  above, 
And  captives  bound  with  leathern  thongs 
Shall  kneel  and  praise  you,  one  by  one, 
At  evening  in  my  western  dun." 

"0  Oisin,  mount  by  me  and  ride 
To  shores  by  the  wash  of  the  tremulous  tide, 
Where  men  have  heaped  no  burial  mounds, 
And  the  days  pass  by  like  a  wayward  tune, 
Where  broken  faith  has  never  been  known, 
And  the  blushes   of   first  love   never  have 
flown; 


THE   WANDERINGS  OF  OISIN  73 

And  there  I  will  give  you  a  hundred  hounds ; 
No  mightier  creatures  bay  at  the  moon; 
And  a  hundred  robes  of  murmuring  silk, 
And  a  hundred  calves  and  a  hundred  sheep 
Whose  long  wool  whiter  than  sea  froth  flows, 
And  a  hundred  spears  and  a  hundred  bows, 
And  oil  and  wine  and  honey  and  milk, 
And  always  never-anxious  sleep ; 
While  a  hundred  youths,  mighty  of  limb, 
But  knowing  nor  tumult  nor  hate  nor  strife, 
And  a  hundred  maidens,  merry  as  birds, 
Who  when  they  dance  to  a  fitful  measure 
Have  a  speed  like  the  speed  of    the  salmon 

herds 
Shall  follow  your  horn  and  obey  your  whim, 
And  you  shall  know  the  Danaan  leisure : 
And  Niamh  be  with  you  for  a  wife." 


74  THE   WANDERINGS   OF  01  SIN 

Then  she  sighed  gently,  "It  grows  late, 

Music  and  love  and  sleep  await, 

Where  I   would  be   when   the  white   moon 

climbs, 
The  red  sun  falls,  and  the  world  grows  dim." 

And  then  I  mounted  and  she  bound  me 
With  her  triumphing  arms  around  me, 
And  whispering  to  herself  en  wound  me ; 
But  when  the  horse  had  felt  my  weight, 
He  shook  himself  and  neighed  three  times : 
Caolte,  Conan,  and  Finn  came  near, 
And  wept,  and  raised  their  lamenting  hands, 
And  bid  me  stay,  with  many  a  tear ; 
But  we  rode  out  from  the  human  lands. 

In  what  far  kingdom  do  you  go, 

Ah,  Fenians,  with  the  shield  and  bow  ? 


THE   WANDERINGS    OF  01  SIN  75 

Or  are  you  phantoms  white  as  snow, 
Whose  lips  had  life's  most  prosperous  glow? 

0  you,  with  whom  in  sloping  valleys, 
Or  down  the  dewy  forest  alleys, 

1  chased  at  morn  the  flying  deer, 

With  whom  I  hurled  the  hurrying  spear, 
And  heard  the  foemen's  bucklers  rattle, 
And  broke  the  heaving  ranks  of  battle ! 
And  Bran,  Sgeolan,  and  Lomair, 
Where  are  you  with  your  long  rough  hair  ? 
You  go  not  where  the  red  deer  feeds, 
Nor  tear  the  foeman  from  their  steeds. 

S.  Patric.   Boast    not,    nor    mourn    with 
drooping  head 
Companions  long  accurst  and  dead. 
And  hounds  for  centuries  dust  and  air. 

Oisin.  We  galloped  over  the  glossy  sea : 


76  THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

I  know  not  if  days  passed  or  hours, 

And  Niamh  sang  continually 

Danaan  songs,  and  their  dewy  showers 

Of  pensive  laughter,  unhuman  sound, 

Lulled  weariness,  and  softly  round 

My  human  sorrow  her  white  arms  wound. 

On !  on !  and  now  a  hornless  deer 

Passed  by  us,  chased  by  a  phantom  hound 

All  pearly  white,  save  one  red  ear; 

And  now  a  maiden  rode  like  the  wind 

With  an  apple  of  gold  in  her  tossing  hand, 

And  with  quenchless  eyes  and  fluttering  hair 

A  beautiful  young  man  followed  behind. 

"Were  these  two  born  in  the  Danaan  land, 
Or  have  they  breathed  the  mortal  air?" 


THE   WANDERINGS   OF  01  SIN  77 

"Vex  them  no  longer,"  Niamh  said, 
And  sighing  bowed  her  gentle  head, 
And  sighing  laid  the  pearly  tip 
Of  one  long  finger  on  my  lip. 

But  now  the  moon  like  a  white  rose  shone 
In  the  pale  west,  and  the  sun's  rim  sank, 
And  clouds  arrayed  their  rank  on  rank 
About  his  fading  crimson  ball : 
The  floor  of  Emen's  hosting  hall 
Was  not  more  level  than  the  sea, 
As  full  of  loving  phantasy, 
And  with  low  murmurs  we  rode  on, 
Where  many  a  trumpet-twisted  shell 
That  in  immortal  silence  sleeps 
Dreaming  of  her  own  melting  hues, 
Her  golds,  her  ambers,  and  her  blues, 


78  THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

Pierced  with  soft  light  the  shallowing  deeps 

But  now  a  wandering  land  breeze  came 

And  a  far  sound  of  feathery  quires ; 

It  seemed  to  blow  from  the  dying  flame, 

They  seemed  to  sing  in  the  smouldering  fires. 

The  horse  towards  the  music  raced, 

Neighing  along  the  lifeless  waste ; 

Like  sooty  fingers,  many  a  tree 

Rose  ever  out  of  the  warm  sea ; 

And  they  were  trembling  ceaselessly, 

As  though  they  all  were  beating  time, 

Upon  the  centre  of  the  sun, 

To  that  low  laughing  woodland  rhyme. 

And,  now  our  wandering  hours  were  done, 

We  cantered  to  the  shore,  and  knew 

The  reason  of  the  trembling  trees : 

Round  every  branch  the  song-birds  flew, 


THE   WANDERINGS  OF  OISIN  79 

Or  clung  thereon  like  swarming  bees ; 
While  round  the  shore  a  million  stood 
Like  drops  of  frozen  rainbow  light, 
And  pondered  in  a  soft  vain  mood, 
Upon  their  shadows  in  the  tide, 
And  told  the  purple  deeps  their  pride, 
And  murmured  snatches  of  delight ; 
And  on  the  shores  were  many  boats 
With  bending  sterns  and  bending  bows, 
And  carven  figures  on  their  prows 
Of  bitterns,  and  fish-eating  stoats, 
And  swans  with  their  exultant  throats : 
And  where  the  wood  and  waters  meet 
We  tied  the  horse  in  a  leafy  clump, 
And  Niamh  blew  three  merry  notes 
Out  of  a  little  silver  trump ; 
And  then  an  answering  whisper  flew 


80  THE  WANDERINGS  OF  OISIN 

Over  the  bare  and  woody  land, 

A  whisper  of  impetuous  feet, 

And  ever  nearer,  nearer  grew ; 

And  from  the  woods  rushed  out  a  band 

Of  men  and  maidens,  hand  in  hand, 

And  singing,  singing  altogether; 

Their  brows  were  white  as  fragrant  milk, 

Their  cloaks  made  out  of  yellow  silk, 

And  tiimmed  with  many  a  crimson  feather 

And  when  they  saw  the  cloak  I  wore 

Was  dim  with  mire  of  a  mortal  shore, 

They  fingered  it  and  gazed  on  me 

And  laughed  like  murmurs  of  the  sea; 

But  Niamh  with  a  swift  distress 

Bid  them  away  and  hold  their  peace ; 

And  when  they  heard  her  voice  they  ran 

And  knelt  them,  every  maid  and  man, 


TEE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN  81 

And  kissed,  as  they  would  never  cease, 
Her  pearl-pale  hand  and  the  hem  of  her  dress. 
She  bade  them  bring  us  to  the  hall 
Where  Aengus  dreams,  from  sun  to  sun, 
A  Druid  dream  of  the  end  of  days 
When  the  stars  are  to  wane  and  the  world  be 
done. 

They  led  us  by  long  and  shadowy  ways 
Where  drops  of  dew  in  myriads  fall, 
And  tangled  creepers  every  hour 
Blossom  in  some  new  crimson  flower, 
And  once  a  sudden  laughter  sprang 
From  all  their  lips,  and  once  they  sang 
Together,  while  the  dark  woods  rang, 
And  made  in  all  their  distant  parts, 
With  boom  of  bees  in  honey  marts, 

VOL.   I. G 


82  THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

A  rumour  of  delighted  hearts. 

And  once  a  maiden  by  my  side 

Gave  me  a  harp,  and  bid  me  sing, 

And  touch  the  laughing  silver  string; 

But  when  I  sang  of  human  joy 

A  sorrow  wrapped  each  merry  face, 

And,  Patric  !  by  your  beard,  they  wept, 

Until  one  came,  a  tearful  boy ; 

''A  sadder  creature  never  stept 

Than  this  strange  human  bard,"  he  cried; 

And  caught  the  silver  harp  away, 

And,  weeping  over  the  white  strings,  hurled 

It  down  in  a  leaf-hid,  hollow  place 

That  kept  dim  waters  from  the  sky; 

And  each  one  said  with  a  long,  long  sigh, 

"0  saddest  harp  in  all  the  world, 

Sleep  there  till  the  moon  and  the  stars  die ! " 


THE   WANDERINGS   OF  01  SIN  83 

And  now  still  sad  we  came  to  where 

A  beautiful  young  man  dreamed  withii? 

A  house  of  wattles,  clay,  and  skin ; 

One  hand  upheld  his  beardless  chin, 

And  one  a  sceptre  flashing  out 

Wild  flames  of  red  and  gold  and  blue, 

Like  to  a  merry  wandering  rout 

Of  dancers  leaping  in  the  air , 

And  men  and  maidens  knelt  them  there 

And  showed  their  eyes  with  teardrops  dim, 

And  with  low  murmurs  prayed  to  him, 

And  kissed  the  sceptre  with  red  lips, 

And  touched  it  with  their  finger-tips. 

He  held  that  flashing  sceptre  up. 
"Joy  drowns  the  twilight  in  the  dew, 
And  fills  with  stars  night's  purple  cup, 


84  THE   WANDERINGS  OF  OISIN 

And  wakes  the  sluggard  seeds  of  corn, 

And  stirs  the  young  kid's  budding  horn, 

And  makes  the  infant  ferns  unwrap, 

And  for  the  peewit  paints  his  cap, 

And  rolls  along  the  unwieldy  sun, 

And  makes  the  little  planets  run  : 

And  if  joy  were  not  on  the  earth, 

There  were  an  end  of  change  and  birth, 

And  earth  and  heaven  and  hell  would  die, 

And  in  some  gloomy  barrow  lie 

Folded  like  a  frozen  fly ; 

Then  mock  at  Death  and  Time  with  glances 

And  wavering   arms  and   wandering  dances. 

"Men's  hearts  of  old  were  drops  of  flame 
That  from  the  saffron  morning  came, 
Or  drops  of  silver  joy  that  fell 


THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN  85 

Out  of  the  moon's  pale  twisted  shell ; 
But  now  hearts  cry  that  hearts  are  slaves, 
And  toss  and  turn  in  narrow  caves ; 
But  here  there  is  nor  law  nor  rule, 
Nor  have  hands  held  a  weary  tool ; 
And  here  there  is  nor  Change  nor  Death, 
But  only  kind  and  merry  breath, 
For  joy  is  God  and  God  is  joy." 
With  one  long  glance  on  maid  and  boy 
And  the  pale  blossom  of  the  moon, 
He  fell  into  a  Druid  swoon. 

And  in  a  wild  and  sudden  dance 

We  mocked  at  Time  and  Fate  and  Chance, 

And  swept  out  of  the  wattled  hall 

And  came  to  where  the  dewdrops  fall 

Among  the  foamdrops  of  the  sea, 


86  THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

And  there  we  hushed  the  revelry ; 

And,  gathering  on  our  brows  a  frown, 

Bent  all  our  swaying  bodies  down, 

And  to  the  waves  that  glimmer  by 

That  slooping  green  De  Danaan  sod 

Sang,  "God  is  joy  and  joy  is  God, 

And  things  that  have  grown  sad  are  wicked, 

And  things  that  fear  the  dawn  of  the  morrow, 

Or  the  gray  wandering  osprey  Sorrow." 

We  danced  to  where  in  the  winding  thicket 
The  damask  roses,  bloom  on  bloom, 
Like  crimson  meteors  hang  in  the  gloom 
And  bending  over  them  softly  said, 
Bending  over  them  in  the  dance 
With  a  swift  and  friendly  glance 
From  dewy  eyes :  "  Upon  the  dead 


THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN  87 

Fall  the  leaves  of  other  roses, 

On  the  dead  dim  earth  encloses : 

But  never,  never  on  our  graves, 

Heaped  beside  the  glimmering  waves, 

Shall  fall  the  leaves  of  damask  roses. 

For  neither  Death  nor  Change  comes  near  us, 

And  all  listless  hours  fear  us, 

And  we  fear  no  dawning  morrow, 

Nor  the  gray  wandering  osprey  Sorrow." 

The  dance  wound  through  the  windless  woods ; 

The  ever-summered  solitudes; 

Until  the  tossing  arms  grew  still 

Upon  the  woody  central  hill  ; 

And,  gathered  in  a  panting  band, 

We  flung  on  high  each  waving  hand, 

And  sang  unto  the  starry  broods : 


88  THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

In  our  raised  eyes  there  flashed  a  glow 

Of  milky  brightness  to  and  fro 

As  thus  our  song  arose :  "You  stars, 

Across  your  wandering  ruby  cars 

Shake  the  loose  reins :  you  slaves  of  God 

He  rules  you  with  an  iron  rod, 

He  holds  you  with  an  iron  bond, 

Each  one  woven  to  the  other, 

Each  one  woven  to  his  brother 

Like  bubbles  in  a  frozen  pond; 

But  we  in  a  lonely  land  abide 

Unchainable  as  the  dim  tide, 

With  hearts  that  know  nor  law  nor  rule, 

And  hands  that  hold  no  wearisome  tool 

Folded  in  love  that  fears  no  morrow, 

Nor  the  gray  wandering  osprey  Sorrow." 

0  Patric  !  for  a  hundred  years 


THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN  89 

I  chased  upon  that  woody  shore 
The  deer,  the  badger,  and  the  boar. 
0  Patric  !  for  a  hundred  years 
At  evening  on  the  glimmering  sands, 
Beside  the  piled-up  hunting  spears, 
These  now  outworn  and  withered  hands 
Wrestled  among  the  island  bands. 
0  Patric  !  for  a  hundred  years 
We  went  a-fishing  in  long  boats 
With  bending  sterns  and  bending  bows, 
And  carven  figures  on  their  prows 
Of  bitterns  and  fish-eating  stoats. 
0  Patric  !  for  a  hundred  years 
The  gentle  Niamh  was  my  wife ; 
But  now  two  things  devour  my  life ; 
The  things  that  most  of  all  I  hate : 
Fasting  and  prayers. 


90  THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

S.  Patric.  Tell  on. 

Oisin.  Yes,  yes, 

For  these  were  ancient  Oisin's  fate 
Loosed  long  ago  from  heaven's  gate, 
For  his  last  clays  to  lie  in  wait. 

When  one  day  by  the  shore  I  stood, 

I  drew  out  of  the  numberless 

White  flowers  of  the  foam  a  staff  of  wood 

From  some  dead  warrior's  broken  lance : 

I  turned  it  in  my  hands ;  the  stains 

Of  war  were  on  it,  and  I  wept, 

Remembering  how  the  Fenians  stept 

Along  the  blood-bedabbled  plains, 

Equal  to  good  or  grievous  chance : 

Thereon  young  Niamh  softly  came 

And  caught  my  hands,  but  spake  no  word 


THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN  91 

Save  only  many  times  my  name, 

In  murmurs,  like  a  frighted  bird. 

We  passed  by  woods,  and  lawns  of  clover, 

And  found  the  horse  and  bridled  him, 

For  we  knew  well  the  old  was  over. 

I  heard  one  say  "his  eyes  grow  dim 

With  all  the  ancient  sorrow  of  men;" 

And  wrapped  in  dreams  rode  out  again 

With  hoofs  of  the  pale  fmdrinny 

Over  the  glimmering  purple  sea : 

Under  the  golden  evening  light. 

The  immortals  moved  among  the  fountains 

By  rivers  and  the  woods'  old  night  ; 

Some  danced  like  shadows  on  the  mountains 

Some  wandered  ever  hand  in  hand, 

Or  sat  in  dreams  on  the  pale  strand  ; 

Each  forehead  like  an  obscure  star 


92  THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

Bent  down  above  each  hooked  knee : 

And  sang,  and  with  a  dreamy  gaze 

Watched  where  the  sun  in  a  saffron  blaze 

Was  slumbering  half  in  the  sea  ways ; 

And,  as  they  sang,  the  painted  birds 

Kept  time  with  their  bright  wings  and  feet; 

Like  drops  of  honey  came  their  words, 

But  fainter  than  a  young  lamb's  bleat. 

"An  old  man  stirs  the  fire  to  a  blaze, 

In  the  house  of   a  child,  of  a  friend,  of  a 

brother ; 
He  has  over-lingered  his  welcome ;  the  days, 
Grown   desolate,  whisper  and  sigh  to   each 

other; 
He  hears  the  storm  in  the  chimney  above, 
And  bends  to  the  fire  and  shakes  with  the 

cold, 


THE    WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN  93 

While  his  heart  still  dreams  of  battle  and  love, 
And  the  cry  of  the  hounds  on  the  hills  of  old. 


a 


But  we  are  apart  in  the  grassy  places, 

Where  care  cannot  trouble  the  least  of  our 
davs, 

Or  the  softness  of  youth  be  gone  from  our 
faces, 

Or  love's  first  tenderness  die  in  our  gaze. 

The  hare  grows  old  as  she  plays  in  the  sun 

And  gazes  around  her  with  eyes  of  bright- 
ness ; 

Before  the  swift  things  that  she  dreamed  of 
were  done 

She  limps  along  in  an  aged  whiteness ; 

A  storm  of  birds  in  the  Asian  trees 

Like  tulips  in  the  air  a-winging, 


94  THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

And  the  gentle  waves  of  the  summer  seas, 
That  raise  their  heads  and  wander  singing, 
Must  murmur  at  last  'unjust,  unjust' 
And  'my  speed   is   a  weariness,'  falters   the 

mouse ; 
And  the  kingfisher  turns  to  a  ball  of  dust, 
And  the  roof  falls  in  of  his  tunnelled  house. 
But  the  love-dew  dims  our  eyes  till  the  day 
When  God  shall  come   from  the  sea  with  a 

sigh 
And  bid  the  stars  drop  down  from  the  sky, 
And  the  moon  like  a  pale  rose  wither  away." 


BOOK  II 


Now,   man  of  croziers,   shadows  called   our 

names 
And  then  away,  away,  like  whirling  flames; 
And  now  fled  by,  mist-covered,  without  sound, 
The  youth  and  lady  and  the  deer  and  hound ; 
"Gaze  no  more  on  the  phantoms,"  Niamh  said, 
And  kissed  my  eyes,  and,  swaying  her  bright 

head 
And  her  bright  body,  sang  of  faery  and  man 
Before  God  was  or  my  old  line  began ; 
Wars  shadowy,  vast,  exultant ;   faeries  of  old 
Who  wedded  men  with  rings  of  Druid  gold; 
And  how  those  lovers  never  turn  their  eyes 
Upon  the  life  that  fades  and  flickers  and  dies, 

VOL.    I.  H  97 


98  THE   WANDERINGS  OF  OISIN 

But  love  and  kiss  on  dim  shores  far  away 
Rolled  round  with  music  of  the  sighing  spray : 
But  sang  no  more,  as  when,  like  a  brown  bee 
That  has  drunk  full,  she  crossed  the  misty  sea 
With  me  in  her  white  arms  a  hundred  years 
Before  this  day ;  for  now  the  fall  of  tears 
Troubled  her  song. 

I  do  not  know  if  days 
Or  hours  passed  by,  yet  hold  the  morning  rays 
Shone  many  times  among  the  glimmering 

flowers 
Wove  in  her  flower-like  hair,   before  dark 

towers 
Rose  in  the  darkness,  and  the  white  surf 

gleamed 
About  them ;  and  the  horse  of  faery  screamed 


THE   WANDERINGS  OF  OISIN  99 

And  shivered,  knowing  the  Isle  of  many  Fears, 
Nor  ceased  until  white  Niamh  stroked  his  ears 
And  named  him  by  sweet  names. 

A  foaming  tide 
Whitened  afar  with  surge,   fan-formed  and 

wide, 
Burst  from  a  great  door  marred  by  many  a 

blow 
From  mace  and  sword  and  pole-axe,  long  ago 
When   gods   and   giants   warred.     We   rode 

between 
The  seaweed-covered  pillars,  and  the  green 
And  surging  phosphorus  alone  gave  light 
On  our  dark  pathway,  till  a  countless  flight 
Of  moonlit  steps  glimmered;    and  left  and 

right 


100         THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

Dark  statues  glimmered  over  the  pale  tide 
Upon  dark  thrones.     Between  the  lids  of  one 
The  imaged  meteors  had  flashed  and  run 
And  had  disported  in  the  stilly  jet, 
And  the  fixed  stars  had  dawned  and  shone  and 

set, 
Since  God  made  Time  and  Death  and  Sleep : 

the  other 
Stretched  his  long  arm  to  where,  a  misty 

smother, 
The  stream  churned,  churned,  and  churned 

—  his  lips  apart, 
As  though  he  told  his  never  slumbering  heart 
Of  every  foamdrop  on  its  misty  way : 
Tying  the  horse  to  his  vast  foot  that  lay 
Half  in  the  unvesselled  sea,  we  climbed  the 

stairs 


THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN         101 

And  climbed  so  long,  I  thought  the  last  steps 

were 
Hung  from  the  morning  star;    when  these 

mild  words 
Fanned  the  delighted  air  like  wings  of  birds: 
"My  brothers  spring  out  of  their  beds  at  morn, 
A-murmur  like   young  partridge:   with  loud 

horn 
They  chase  the  noontide  deer ; 
And  when  the  dew-drowned  stars  hang  in  the 

air 
Look  to  long  fishing-lines,  or  point  and  pare 
A  larch-wood  hunting  spear. 

"  0  sigh,  0  fluttering  sigh,  be  kind  to  me ; 
Flutter  along  the  froth  lips  of  the  sea, 
And  shores,  the  froth  lips  wet : 


102  THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

And  stay  a  little  while,  and  bid  them  weep: 
Ah,  touch  their  blue  veined  eyelids  if  they 

sleep, 
And  shake  their  coverlet. 

"  When  you  have  told  how  I  weep  endlessly, 
Flutter  along  the  froth  lips  of  the  sea 
And  home  to  me  again, 
And  in  the  shadow  of  my  hair  lie  hid, 
And  tell  me  how  you  came  to  one  unbid, 
The  saddest  of  all  men." 

A  maiden  with  soft  eyes  like  funeral  tapers, 
And  face  that  seemed  wrought  out  of  moonlit 

vapours, 
And  a  sad  mouth,  that  fear  made  tremulous 
As  any  ruddy  moth,  looked  down  on  us ; 
And  she  with  a  wave-rusted  chain  was  tied 


THE    WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN         103 

To  two  old  eagles,  full  of  ancient  pride, 
That  with  dim  eyeballs  stood  on  either  side. 
Few  feathers  were  on  their  dishevelled  wings, 
For  their  dim  minds  were  with  the  ancient 
things. 

"I  bring  deliverance,"  pearl-pale  Niamh  said. 

"Neither  the  living,  nor  the  unlabouring  dead, 
Nor  the  high  gods  who  never  lived,  may  fight 
My  enemy  and  hope ;  demons  for  fright 
Jabber  and  scream  about  him  in  the  night ; 
For  he  is  strong  and  crafty  as  the  seas 
That  sprang  under  the  Seven  Hazel  Trees 
And  I  must  needs  endure  and  hate  and  weep, 
Until  the  gods  and  demons  drop  asleep 
Hearing  Aed  touch  the   mournful  strings  of 
gold." 


104         THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

"Is  he  so  dreadful?" 


CI 


'  Be  not  over  bold, 
But  flee  while  you  may  flee  from  him." 

Then  I: 
"This  demon  shall  be  pierced  and  drop  and 

die, 
And  his  loose  bulk  be  thrown  in  the  loud  tide." 

"Flee  from  him,"  pearl-pale  Niamh  weeping 

cried, 
For  all  men  flee  the  demons;"   but  moved 

not, 
Nor  shook  my  firm  and  spacious  soul  one  jot ; 
There  was  no  mightier  soul  of  Heber's  line ; 
Now  it  is  old  and  mouse-like :  for  a  sign 


n 


THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN        105 

I   burst   the   chain:    still   earless,   nerveless, 

blind, 
Wrapped  in  the  things  of  the  unhuman  mind, 
In  some  dim  memory  or  ancient  mood 
Still  earless,  nerveless,  blind,  the  eagles  stood. 

And  then  we  climbed  the  stair  to  a  high  door, 
A  hundred  horsemen  on  the  basalt  floor 
Beneath  had  paced  content :  we  held  our  way 
And  stood  within :  clothed  in  a  misty  ray 
I  saw  a  foam-white  seagull  drift  and  float 
Under  the  roof,  and  with  a  straining  throat 
Shouted,  and  hailed  him :  he  hung  there  a  star, 
For  no  man's  cry  shall  ever  mount  so  far ; 
Not  even  your  God  could  have  thrown  down 

that  hall; 
Stabling  His  unloosed  lightnings  in  their  stall, 


106         THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

He  had  sat  down  and  sighed  with  cumbered 

heart, 
As  though  His  hour  were  come. 

We  sought  the  part 
That  was  most  distant  from  the  door;  green 

slime 
Made  the  way  slippery,  and  time  on  time 
Showed  prints  of  sea-born  scales,  while  down 

through  it 
The  captives'  journeys  to  and  fro  were  writ 
Like  a  small  river,  and,  where  feet  touched, 

came 
A  momentary  gleam  of  phosphorus  flame. 
Under  the  deepest  shadows  of  the  hall 
That  maiden  found  a  ring  hung  on  the  wall, 
And  in  the  ring  a  torch,  and  with  its  flare 


THE    WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN         107 

Making  a  world  about  her  in  the  air, 
Passed  under  a  dim  doorway,  out  of  sight, 
And  came  again,  holding  a  second  light 
Burning  between  her  fingers,  and  in  mine 
Laid  it  and  sighed:    I  held  a  sword  whose 

shine 
No  centuries  could  dim :  and  a  word  ran 
Thereon  in  Ogham  letters,  "Mananan"  : 
That  sea-god's  name,  who  in  a  deep  content 
Sprang  dripping,  and,  with  captive  demons 

sent 
Out  of  the  seven-fold  seas,  built  the  dark  hall 
Rooted  in  foam  and  clouds,  and  cried  to  all 
The  mightier  masters  of  a  mightier  race; 
And  at  his  cry  there  came  no  milk-pale  face 
Under  a  crown  of  thorns  and  dark  with  blood, 
But  only  exultant  faces. 


108         THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

Niamh  stood 
With  bowed  head,  trembling  when  the  white 

blade  shone, 
But  she  whose  hours  of  tenderness  were  gone 
Had  neither  hope  nor  fear.     I  bade  them  hide 
Under  the  shadows  till  the  tumults  died 
Of  the  loud  crashing  and  earth  shaking  fight, 
Lest  they  should  look  upon  some  dreadful 

sight; 
And  thrust  the  torch  between  the  slimy  flags. 
A  dome  made  out  of  endless  carven  jags, 
Where  shadowy  face  flowed  into  shadowy  face, 
Looked  down  on  me;    and  in  the  self-same 

place 
I  waited  hour  by  hour,  and  the  high  dome 
Windowless,  pillarless,  multitudinous  home 
Of  faces,  waited ;  and  the  leisured  gaze 


THE   WANDERINGS  OF  OISIN         109 

Was  loaded  with  the  memory  of  days 
Buried  and  mighty :  when  through  the  great 

door 
The  dawn  came  in,  and  glimmered  on  the 

floor 
With  a  pale  light,  I   journeyed   round   the 

hall 
And  found  a  door  deep  sunken  in  the  wall, 
The  least  of  doors;  beyond  on  a  dim  plain 
A  little  runnel  made  a  bubbling  strain, 
And  on  the  runnel's  stony  and  bare  edge 
A  dusky  demon  dry  as  a  withered  sedge 
Swayed,    crooning   to   himself   an   unknown 

tongue : 
In  a  sad  revelry  he  sang  and  swung 
Bacchant  and  mournful,  passing  to  and  fro 
His  hand  along  the  runnel's  side,  as  though 


110  THE   WANDERINGS  OF  OISIN 

The  flowers  still  grew  there :  far  on  the  sea's 

waste ; 
Shaking  and  waving,  vapour  vapour  chased, 
While  high  frail  cloudlets,  fed  with  a  green 

light, 
Like  drifts  of  leaves,  immovable  and  bright, 
Hung  in   the   passionate   dawn.     He   slowly 

turned : 
A  demon's  leisure:    eyes,   first  white,   now 

burned 
Like  wings  of  kingfishers;  and  he  arose 
Barking.     We  trampled  up  and  down  with 

blows 
Of  sword  and  brazen  battle-axe,  while  day 
Gave  to  high  noon  and  noon  to  night  gave 

way; 
But  when  at  withering  of  the  sun  he  knew 


THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN  111 

The  Druid  sword  of  Mananan,  he  grew 

To  many  shapes ;  I  lunged  at  the  smooth  throat 

Of  a  great  eel ;  it  changed,  and  I  but  smote 

A  fir-tree  roaring  in  its  leafless  top ; 

And  I  but  held  a  corpse,  with  livid  chop 

And  dripping  and  sunken  shape,  to  face  and 

breast, 
When  I'd  tore  down  that  tree ;  but  when  the 

west 
Surged  up  in  plumy  fire,  I  lunged  and  drave 
Through  heart  and  spine ;  and  cast  him  in  the 

wave, 
Lest  Niamh  shudder. 

Full  of  hope  and  dread 
Those  two  came  carrying  wine  and  meat  and 
bread, 


112         THE   WANDERINGS  OF  01  SIN 

And  healed  my  wounds  with  unguents  out  of 

flowers, 
That  feed  white  moths  by  some  De  Danaan 

shrine ; 
Then  in  that  hall,  lit  by  the  dim  sea  shine, 
We  lay  on  skins  of  otters,  and  drank  wine, 
Brewed  by  the  sea-gods,  from  huge  cups  that 

lay 
Upon  the  lips  of  sea-gods  in  their  day; 
And  then  on  heaped-up  skins  of  otters  slept. 
But  when  the  sun  once  more  in  saffron  stept, 
Rolling  his  flagrant  wheel  out  of  the  deep, 
We  sang  the  loves  and  angers  without  sleep, 
And  all  the  exultant  labours  of  the  strong : 

But  now  the  lying  clerics  murder  song 
With  barren  words  and  flatteries  of  the  weak. 


THE   WANDERINGS   OF  01  SIN         113 

In  what  land  do  the  powerless  turn  the  beak 
Of  ravening  Sorrow,  or  the  hand  of  Wrath  ? 
For  all  your  croziers,  they  have  left  the  path 
And  wander  in  the  storms  and  clinging  snows, 
Hopeless  for  ever :  ancient  Oisin  knows, 
For  he  is  weak  and  poor  and  blind,  and  lies 
On  the  anvil  of  the  world. 

S.  Patric.  Be  still :  the  skies 

Are  choked  with  thunder,  lightning,  and  fierce 

wind, 
For  God  has  heard,  and  speaks  His  angry 

mind  ; 
Go  cast  your  body  on  the  stones  and  pray, 
For  He  has  wrought  midnight  and  dawn  and 

day. 
Oisin.   Saint,  do  you  weep  ?    I  hear  amid 

the  thunder 

VOL.   I. —  I 


114         THE   WANDERINGS  OF  OISIN 

The  Fenian  horses;  armour  torn  asunder; 
Laughter  and  cries:'   the  armies  clash  and 

shock ; 
All  is  done  now ;  I  see  the  ravens  flock  ; 
Ah,   cease,   you  mournful,   laughing  Fenian 

horn! 

We  feasted  for  three  days.     On  the  fourth 

morn 
I   found,   dropping    sea   foam   on   the   wide 

stair, 
And  hung  with  slime,  and  whispering  in  his 

hair, 
That  demon  dull  and  unsubduable ; 
And  once  more  to  a  day-long  battle  fell, 
And  at  the  sundown  threw  him  in  the  surge, 
To  lie  until  the  fourth  morn  saw  emerge 


THE  WANDERINGS  OF  OISIN         115 

His  new  healed  shape:    and  for  a  hundred 

years 
So  warred,  so  feasted,  with  nor  dreams,  nor 

fears 
Nor  languor  nor  fatigue :  an  endless  feast, 
An  endless  war. 

The  hundred  years  had  ceased ; 
I  stood  upon  the  stair :  the  surges  bore 
A  beech  bough  to  me,  and  my  heart  grew  sore, 
Remembering  how  I  stood  by  white-haired 

Finn 
While  the  woodpecker  made  a  merry  din, 
The  hare  leaped  in  the  grass. 

Young  Niamh  came 
Holding   that   horse,   and   sadly   called  my 
name; 


116  THE  WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

I  mounted,  and  we  passed  over  the  lone 
And  drifting  grayness,  while  this  monotone, 
Surly  and  distant,  mixed  inseparably 
Into  the  clangour  of  the  wind  and  sea. 

"I  hear  my  soul  drop  down  into  decay, 
And  Mananan's  dark  tower,  stone  by  stone, 
Gather  sea  slime  and  fall  the  seaward  way, 
And  the  moon  goad  the  waters  night  and  day, 
That  all  be  overthrown. 

"But  till  the  moon  has  taken  all,  I  wage 
War  on  the  mightiest  men  under  the  skies, 
And  they  have  fallen  or  fled,  age  after  age : 
Light  is   man's  love,   and   lighter  is   man's 


rage; 


His  purpose  drifts  and  dies." 


THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN         117 

And  then  lost  Niamh  murmured,  "Love,  we  go 
To  the  Island  of  Forgetfulness,  for  lo  ! 
The  Islands  of  Dancing  and  of  Victories 
Are  empty  of  all  power." 

"And  which  of  these 
Is  the  Island  of  Content?" 

"None  know,"  she  said; 
And  on  my  bosom  laid  her  weeping  head. 


BOOK   III 


Fled  foam  underneath  us,  and  round  us,  a 

wandering  and  milky  smoke, 
High  as  the  saddle  girth,  covering  away  from 

our  glances  the  tide ; 
And  those  that  fled,  and  that  followed,  from 

the  foam-pale  distance  broke ; 
The  immortal  desire  of  immortals  we  saw  in 

their  faces,  and  sighed. 

I  mused  on  the  chase  with  the  Fenians,  and 

Bran,  Sgeolan,  Lomair, 
And  never  a  song  sang  Niamh,  and  over  my 

finger-tips 

Came  now  the  sliding  of  tears  and  sweeping 

of  mist-cold  hair, 

121 


122         THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

And  now  the  warmth  of  sighs,  and  after  the 
quiver  of  lips. 

Were  we  days  long  or  hours  long  in  riding, 

when  rolled  in  a  grisly  peace, 
An  isle  lay  level  before  us,  with  dripping  hazel 

and  oak  ? 
And  we  stood  on  a  sea's  edge  we  saw  not ;  for 

whiter  than  new-washed  fleece 
Fled  foam  underneath  us,  and  round  us,  a 

wandering  and  milky  smoke. 

And  we  rode  on  the  plains  of  the  sea's  edge ; 

the  sea's  edge  barren  and  gray 
Gray  sand  on  the  green  of  the  grasses  and  over 

the  dripping  trees, 
Dripping  and  doubling  landward,  as  though 

they  would  hasten  away 


THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN         123 

Like  an  army  of  old  men  longing  for  rest 
from  the  moan  of  the  seas. 

But  the  trees  grew  taller  and  closer,  immense 

in  their  wrinkling  bark ; 
Dropping ;  a  murmurous  dropping ;  old  silence 

and  that  one  sound  ; 
For  no  live  creatures  lived  there,  no  weasels 

moved  in  the  dark : 
Long  sighs  arose  in  our  spirits,  beneath  us 

bubbled  the  ground. 

And  the  ears  of  the  horse  went  sinking  away 

in  the  hollow  night, 
For,  as  drift  from  a  sailor  slow  drowning  the 

gleams  of  the  world  and  the  sun, 
Ceased  on  our  hands  and  our  faces,  on  hazel 

and  oak  leaf,  the  light, 


124         THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

And  the  stars  were  blotted  above  us,  and  the 
whole  of  the  world  was  one. 

Till  the  horse  gave  a  whinny;   for,  cumbrous 

with  stems  of  the  hazel  and  oak, 
A  valley  flowed  down  from  his  hoofs,  and  there 

in  the  long  grass  lay, 
Under  the  starlight  and  shadow,  a  monstrous 

slumbering  folk, 
Their  naked  and  gleaming  bodies  poured  out 

and  heaped  in  the  way. 

And  by  them  were  arrow  and  war-axe,  arrow 
and  shield  and  blade; 

And  dew-blanched  horns,  in  whose  hollow  a 
child  of  three  years  old 

Could  sleep  on  a  couch  of  rushes,  and  all  in- 
wrought and  inlaid, 


THE  WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN         125 

And  more  comely  than  man  can  make  them 
with  bronze  and  silver  and  gold. 

And  each  of  the  huge  white  creatures  was 

huger  than  fourscore  men ; 
The  tops  of  their  ears  were  feathered,  their 

hands  were  the  claws  of  birds, 
And,  shaking  the  plumes  of  the  grasses  and 

the  leaves  of  the  mural  glen, 
The  breathing  came  from  those  bodies,  long- 

warless,  grown  whiter  than  curds. 

The  wood  was  so  spacious  above  them,  that 
He  who  had  stars  for  His  flocks 

Could  fondle  the  leaves  with  His  fingers,  nor 
go  from  His  dew-cumbered  skies ; 

So  long  were  they  sleeping,  the  owls  had 
builded  their  nests  in  their  locks, 


126  THE   WANDERINGS  OF  OISIN 

Filling  the  fibrous  dimness  with  long  genera- 
tions of  eyes. 

And  over  the  limbs  and  the  valley  the  slow 

owls  wandered  and  came, 
Now  in  a  place  of   star-fire,  and  now  in  a 

shadow  place  wide  ; 
And  the  chief  of  the  huge  white  creatures,  his 

knees  in  the  soft  star-flame, 
Lay  loose  in  a  place  of  shadow :  we  drew  the 

reins  by  his  side. 

Golden  the  nails  of  his  bird-claws,  flung 
loosely  along  the  dim  ground; 

In  one  was  a  branch  soft-shining,  with  bells 
more  many  than  sighs, 

In  midst  of  an  old  man's  bosom ;  owls  ruffling 
and  pacing  around, 


THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN         127 

Sidled  their  bodies  against  him,  filling  the 
shade  with  their  eyes. 

And  my  gaze  was  thronged  with  the  sleepers ; 

for  nowhere  in  any  clann 
Of  the  high  people  of  Soraca  nor  in  glamour 

by  demons  flung, 
Are  faces  alive  with  such  beauty  made  known 

to  the  salt  eye  of  man, 
Yet  weary  with  passions  that  faded  when  the 

seven-fold  seas  were  young. 

And  I  gazed  on  the  bell-branch,  sleep's  for- 
bear, far  sung  by  the  Sennachies. 

I  saw  how  those  slumberers,  grown  weary, 
there  camping  in  grasses  deep, 

Of  wars  with  the  wide  world  and  pacing  the 
shores  of  the  wandering  seas, 


128         THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

Laid  hands  on  the  bell-branch  and  swayed  it, 
and  fed  of  unhuman  sleep. 

Snatching    the    horn    of    Niamh,   I   blew   a 

lingering  note ; 
Came  sound  from  those  monstrous  sleepers,  a 

sound  like  the  stirring  of  flies. 
He,  shaking  the  fold  of  his  lips,  and  heaving 

the  pillar  of  his  throat, 
Watched  me  with  mournful  wonder  out  of  the 

wells  of  his  eyes. 

I  cried,  "Come  out  of  the  shadow,  King  of  the 

nails  of  gold ! 
And  tell  of   your  goodly  household  and  the 

goodly  works  of  your  hands, 
That  we  may  muse  in  the  starlight  and  talk 

of  the  battles  of  old ; 


THE   WANDERINGS  OF  OISIN         129 

Your  questioner,  Oisin,  is  worthy,  he  comes 
from  the  Fenian  lands." 

Half  open  his  eyes  were,  and  held  me,  dull 

with  the  smoke  of  their  dreams; 
His  lips  moved  slowly  in  answer,  no  answer 

out  of  them  came; 
Then  he  swayed  in  his  fingers  the  bell-branch, 

slow  dropping  a  sound  in  faint  streams 
Softer  than  snow-flakes  in  April  and  piercing 

the  marrow  like  flame. 

« 

Wrapt  in  the  wave  of  that  music,  with  weari- 
ness more  than  of  earth, 

The  moil  of  my  centuries  filled  me ;  and  gone 
like  a  sea-covered  stone 

Were  the  memories  of  the  whole  of  my  sorrow 

VOL.  I.  —  K 


130         THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

and  the  memories  of  the  whole  of  my 
mirth, 
And  a  softness  came  from  the  starlight  and 
filled  me  full  to  the  bone. 

In  the  roots  of  the  grasses,  the  sorrels,  I  laid 
my  body  as  low ; 

And  the  pearl-pale  Niamh  lay  by  me,  her 
brow  on  the  midst  of  my  breast ; 

And  the  horse  was  gone  in  the  distance,  and 
years  after  years  'gan  flow  ; 

Square  leaves  of  the  ivy  moved  over  us,  bind- 
ing us  down  to  our  rest. 

And,  man  of  the  many  white  croziers,  a  cen- 
tury there  I  forgot ; 

How  the  fetlocks  drip  blood  in  the  battle, 
when  the  fallen  on  fallen  lie  rolled ; 


THE  WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN         131 

How  the  falconer  follows  the  falcon  in  the 

weeds  of  the  heron's  plot, 
And  the  names  of  the  demons  whose  hammers 

made  armour  for  Midhir  of  old. 

And,   man   of   the   many   white   croziers,    a 

century  there  I  forgot; 
That  the  spear-shaft  is  made  out  of  ash  wood, 

the  shield  out  of  ozier  and  hide ; 
How  the  hammers  spring  on  the  anvil,  on  the 

spear-head's  burning  spot  ; 
How  the  slow,  blue-eyed  oxen  of  Finn  low 

sadly  at  evening  tide. 

But  in  dreams,  mild  man  of  the  croziers,  driv- 
ing the  dust  with  their  throngs, 

Moved  round  me,  of  seamen  or  landsmen,  all 
who  are  winter  tales; 


132         THE   WANDERINGS   OF  01  SIN 

Came  by  me  the  Kings  of  the  Red  Branch,  with 

roaring  of  laughter  and  songs, 
Or  moved  as  they  moved  once,  love-making 

or  piercing  the  tempest  with  sails. 

Came  Blanid,  Mac  Nessa,  tall  Fergus  who 

feastward  of  old  time  slunk, 
Cook  Barach,  the  traitor;   and  warward,  the 

spittle  on  his  beard  never  dry, 
Dark  Balor,  as  old  as  a  forest,  car  borne,  his 

mighty  head  sunk 
Helpless,  men  lifting  the  lids  of  his  weary  and 

death-making  eye. 

And  by  me,  in  soft  red  raiment,  the  Fenians 

moved  in  loud  streams, 
And  Grania,  walking  and  smiling,  sewed  with 

her  needle  of  bone. 


THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN         133 

So  lived  I  and  lived  not,  so  wrought  I  and 
wrought  not,  with  creatures  of  dreams, 

In  a  long  iron  sleep,  as  a  fish  in  the  water  goes 
dumb  as  a  stone. 

At  times  our  slumber  was  lightened.     When 

the  sun  was  on  silver  or  gold ; 
When  brushed  with  the  wings  of  the  owls,  in 

the  dimness  they  love  going  by ; 
When  a  glow-worm  was  green  on  a  grass  leaf 

lured  from  his  lair  in  the  mould  ; 
Half  wakening,  we  lifted  our  eyelids,  and  gazed 

on  the  grass  with  a  sigh. 

So  watched  I  when,  man  of  the  croziers,  at 

the  heel  of  a  century  fell, 
Weak,  in  the  midst  of  the  meadow,  from  his 

miles  in  the  midst  of  the  air. 


134  THE    WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

A  starling  like  them  that  forgathered  'neath 
a  moon  waking  white  as  a  shell, 

When  the  Fenians  made  foray  at  morning 
with  Bran,  Sgeolan,  Lomair. 

T  awoke :  the  strange  horse  without  summons 

out  of  the  distance  ran, 
Thrusting  his  nose  to  my  shoulder;   he  knew 

in  his  bosom  deep 
That  once  more  moved   in  my  bosom   the 

ancient  sadness  of  man, 
And  that  I  would  leave  the  immortals,  their 

dimness,  their  clews  dropping  sleep. 

0,  had  you  seen  beautiful  Niamh  grow  white 

as  the  waters  are  white, 
Lord  of  the  croziers,  you  even  had  lifted  your 

hands  and  wept : 


THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN         135 

But,  the  bird  in  my  ringers,  I  mounted,  re- 
membering alone  that  delight 

Of  twilight  and  slumber  were  gone,  and  that 
hoofs  impatiently  stept. 

I  cried,  "0  Niamh!  0  white  one!  if  only  a 

twelve-houred  day, 
I  must  gaze  on  the  beard  of  Finn,  and  move 

where  the  old  men  and  young 
In  the  Fenians'  dwellings  of   wattle  lean  on 

the  chessboards  and  play, 
Ah,  sweet  to  me  now  were  even  bald  Conan's 

slanderous  tongue ! 

"  Like  me  were  some  galley  forsaken  far  off  in 

Meridian  isle. 
Remembering    its    long-oared     companions, 

sails  turning  to  thread-bare  rags ; 


136         THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

No  more  to  crawl  on  the  seas  with  long  oars 
mile  after  mile, 

But  to  be  amid  shooting  of  flies  and  flower- 
ing of  rushes  and  flags." 

Their  motionless  eyeballs  of  spirits  grown  mild 

with  mysterious  thought, 
Watched  her  those  seamless  faces  from  the 

valley's  glimmering  girth ; 
As  she  murmured,  "0  wandering  Oisin,  the 

strength  of  the  bell-branch  is  naught, 
For  there  moves   alive  in   your  fingers  the 

fluttering  sadness  of  earth. 

"Then  go  through  the  lands  in  the  saddle  and 

see  what  the  mortals  do, 
And  softly  come  to   your  Niamh  over  the 

tops  of  the  tide ; 


THE   WANDERINGS  OF  OISIN         137 

But  weep  for  your  Niamh,  0  Oisin,  weep ;  for 

if  only  your  shoe 
Brush  lightly  as   haymouse  earth's  pebbles, 

you  will  come  no  more  to  my  side. 

aO  flaming  lion  of  the  world,  0  when  will  you 

turn  to  your  rest  ?  " 
I  saw  from  a  distant  saddle;   from  the  earth 

she  made  her  moan ; 
"I  would  die  like  a  small  withered  leaf  in  the 

autumn,  for  breast  unto  breast 
We  shall  mingle  no  more,  nor  our  gazes  empty 

their  sweetness  lone 

"In  the  isles  of  the  farthest  seas  where  only 

the  spirits  come 
Were  the  winds  less  soft  than  the  breath  of 

a  pigeon  who  sleeps  on  her  nest, 


138  THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

Nor  lost  in  the  star-fires  and  odours  the  sound 

of  the  sea's  vague  drum 
0  flaming  lion  of  the  world,  0  when  will  you 

turn  to  your  rest  ?  " 

The  wailing  grew  distant ;  I  rode  by  the  woods 

of  the  wrinkling  bark 
Where    ever    is    murmurous    dropping,    old 

silence  and  that  one  sound; 
For  no  live  creatures  live  there,  no  weasels 

move  in  the  dark ; 
In  a  reverie  forgetful  of  all  things,  over  the 

bubbling  ground. 

And  I  rode  by  the  plains  of  the  sea's  edge, 

where  all  is  barren  and  gray, 
Gray  sands  on  the  green  of  the  grasses  and 

over  the  dripping  trees, 


THE    WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN         139 

Dripping  and  doubling  landward,  as  though 

they  would  hasten  away, 
Like  an  army  of  old  men  longing  for  rest  from 

the  moan  of  the  seas. 

And  the  winds  made  the  sands  on  the  sea's 

edge  turning  and  turning  go, 
As  my  mind  made  the  names  of  the  Fenians. 

Far  from  the  hazel  and  oak 
I  rode  away  on  the  surges,  where,  high  as  the 

saddle  bow, 
Fled  foam  underneath  me,  and  round  me,  a 

wandering  and  milky  smoke. 

Long   fled   the   foam-flakes  around  me,   the 

winds  fled  out  of  the  vast, 
Snatching  the  bird  in  secret;    nor  knew  I, 

embosomed  apart, 


140         THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

When  they  froze  the  cloth  on  my  body  like 

armour  riveted  fast, 
For  Remembrance,  lifting  her  leanness,  keened 

in  the  gates  of  my  heart. 

Till  fattening  the  winds  of  the  morning,  an 

odour  of  new-mown  hay 
Came,  and  my  forehead  fell  low,  and  my  tears 

like  berries  fell  down ; 
Later  a  sound  came,  half  lost  in  the  sound  of 

a  shore  far  away, 
From  the  great  grass-barnacle  calling,   and 

later  the  shore-weeds  brown. 

If  I  were  as  I  once  was,  the  strong  hoofs  crush- 
ing the  sand  and  the  shells 

Coming  out  of  the  sea  as  the  dawn  comes,  a 
chaunt  of  love  on  my  lips, 


THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN         141 

Not  coughing,  my  head  on  my  knees,  and 
praying,  and  wroth  with  the  bells, 

I  would  leave  no  saint's  head  on  his  body  from 
Rachlin  to  Bera  of  ships. 

Making  way  from  the  kindling  surges,  I  rode 

on  a  bridle-path 
Much  wondering  to  see  upon  all  hands,  of 

wattles  and  woodwork  made, 
Your  bell-mounted  churches,  and  guardless 

the  sacred  cairn  and  the  rath, 
And  a  small  and  feeble  race  stooping  with 

mattock  and  spade. 

Or  weeding  or  ploughing  with  faces  a-shining 

with  much-toil  wet ; 
While  in  this  place  and  that  place,  with  bodies 

unglorious,  their  chieftains  stood, 


142         THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

Awaiting  in  patience  the  straw-death,  croziered 

one,  caught  in  your  net : 
Went  the  laughter  of  scorn  from  my  mouth 

like  the  roaring  of  wind  hi  a  wood. 

And  because  I  went  by  them  so  huge  and  so 

speedy  with  eyes  so  bright, 
Came  after  the  hard  gaze  of  youth,  or  an  old 

man  lifted  his  head : 
And  I  rode  and  I  rode,  and  I  cried  out,  "The 

Fenians  hunt  wolves  in  the  night, 
So  sleep  they  by  daytime."     A  voice  cried, 

"The  Fenians  a  long  time  are  dead." 

A  whitebeard  stood  hushed  on  the  pathway, 
the  flesh  of  his  face  as  dried  grass, 

And  in  folds  round  his  eyes  and  his  mouth,  he 
sad  as  a  child  without  milk; 


THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN         143 

And  the  dreams  of  the  islands  were  gone,  and 
I  knew  how  men  sorrow  and  pass, 

And  their  hound,  and  their  horse,  and  their 
love,  and  their  eyes  that  glimmer  like  silk. 

And  wrapping  my  face  in  my  hair,  I  mur- 
mured, "In  old  age  they  ceased;" 

And  my  tears  were  larger  than  berries,  and  I 
murmured, ' '  Where  white  clouds  lie  spread 

On  Crevroe  or  broad  Knockfefin,  with  many 
of  old  they  feast 

On  the  floors  of  the  gods."  He  cried,  "No, 
the  gods  a  long  time  are  dead." 

And  lonely  and  longing  for  Niamh,  I  shivered 
and  turned  me  about, 

The  heart  in  me  longing  to  leap  like  a  grass- 
hopper into  her  heart ; 


144         THE   WANDERINGS  OF  OISIN 

I  turned  and  rode  to  the  westward,  and  fol- 
lowed the  sea's  old  shout 

Till  I  saw  where  Maeve  lies  sleeping  till  star- 
light and  midnight  part. 

And  there  at  the  foot  of  the  mountain,  two 

carried  a  sack  full  of  sand, 
They  bore  it  with  staggering  and  sweating, 

but  fell  with  their  burden  at  length : 
Leaning  down  from  the  gem-studded  saddle, 

I  flung  it  five  yards  with  my  hand, 
With  a  sob  for  men  waxing  so  weakly,  a  sob 

for  the  Fenians'  old  strength. 

The  rest  you  have  heard  of,  0  croziered  one ; 

how,  when  divided  the  girth, 
I  fell  on  the  path,  and  the  horse  went  away 

like  a  summer  fly ; 


THE    WANDERINGS  OF  OISIN         145 

And  my  years  three  hundred  fell  on  me,  and 
I  rose,  and  walked  on  the  earth, 

A  creeping  old  man,  full  of  sleep,  with  the 
spittle  on  his  beard  never  dry. 

How  the  men  of  the  sand-sack  showed  me  a 

church  with  its  belfry  in  air; 
Sorry  place,  where  for  swing  of  the  war-axe  in 

my  dim  eyes  the  crozier  gleams ; 
What  place  have  Caolte  and  Conan,  and  Bran, 

Sgeolan,  Lomair? 
Speak,  you  too  are  old  with  your  memories, 

an  old  man  surrounded  with  dreams. 

S.  Patric.  Where  the  flesh  of  the  footsole 
clingeth  on  the  burning  stones  is  then- 
place  ; 

VOL    I. L, 


146         THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

Where  the  demons  whip  them  with  wires  on 
the  burning  stones  of  wide  hell, 

Watching  the  blessed  ones  move  far  off,  and 
the  smile  on  God's  face, 

Between  them  a  gateway  of  brass,  and  the 
howl  of  the  angels  who  fell. 

Oisin.   Put  the  staff  in  my  hands ;  for  I  go 

to  the  Fenians,  0  cleric,  to  chaunt 
The  war-songs  that  roused  them  of  old ;  they 

will  rise,  making  clouds  with  their  breath 
Innumerable,    singing,    exultant;     the    clay 

underneath  them  shall  pant, 
And  demons  be  broken  in  pieces,  and  trampled 

beneath  them  in  death. 

And  demons  afraid  in  their  darkness;  deep 
horror  of  eyes  and  of  wings, 


THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN         147 

Afraid    their   ears   on   the   earth   laid,    shall 

listen  and  rise  up  and  weep ; 
Hearing  the  shaking  of  shields  and  the  quiver 

of  stretched  bowstrings, 
Hearing  hell  loud  with  a  murmur,  as  shouting 

and  mocking  we  sweep. 

We  will  tear  out  the  flaming  stones,  and  batter 

the  gateway  of  brass 
And  enter,  and  none  sayeth  "No"  when  there 

enters  the  strongly  armed  guest ; 
Make  clean  as  a  broom  cleans,  and  march  on 

as  oxen  move  over  young  grass ; 
Then  feast,  making  converse  of  Eire,  of  wars, 

and  of  old  wounds,  and  rest. 

S.  Patric.   On  the  flaming  stones,  without 
refuge,  the  limbs  of  the  Fenians  are  tost; 


148         THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN 

None  war  on  the  masters  of  Hell,  who  could 
break  up  the  world  in  their  rage ; 

But  kneel  and  wear  out  the  flags  and  pray  for 
your  soul  that  is  lost 

Through  the  demon  love  of  its  youth  and  its 
godless  and  passionate  age. 

Oisin.  Ah,  me !  to  be  shaken  with  cough- 
ing and  broken  with  old  age  and  pain, 

Without  laughter,  a  show  unto  children,  alone 
with  remembrance  and  fear, 

All  emptied  of  purple  hours  as  a  beggar's 
cloak  in  the  rain, 

As  a  grass  seed  crushed  by  a  pebble,  as  a  wolf 
sucked  under  a  weir. 

It  were  sad  to  gaze  on  the  blessed  and  no  man 
I  loved  of  old  there ; 


THE   WANDERINGS   OF  OISIN         149 

I  throw  down  the  chain  of  small  stones !  when 

life  in  my  body  has  ceased, 
I  will  go  to  Caolte,  and  Conan,  and  Bran, 

Sgeolan,  Lomair, 
And  dwell  in  the  house  of  the  Fenians,  be 

they  in  flames  or  at  feast. 


EARLY  POEMS 
III 

THE  ROSE 


Sero  te  amavi,  Pulchritudo  tarn  antiqua  et  tarn  nova  I 
Sero  te  amavi.  —  S.  Augustine. 


To  Lionel  Johnson 


. 


TO  THE  ROSE  UPON  THE  ROOD  OF 

TIME 

Red  Rose,  proud  Rose,  sad  Rose  of  all  my  days ! 
Come  near  me,  while  I  sing  the  ancient  ways : 
Cuchulain  battling  with  the  bitter  tide; 
The  Druid,  gray,  wood-nurtured,  quiet-eyed, 
Who  cast  round  Fergus  dreams,  and  ruin  un- 
told; 
And  thine  own  sadness,  whereof  stars,  grown  old 
In  dancing  silver  sandalled  on  the  sea, 
Sing  in  their  high  and  lonely  melody. 
Come  near,  that  no  more  blinded  by  man's  fate, 
I  find  under  the  boughs  of  love  and  hate, 
In  all  poor  foolish  things  that  live  a  day, 
Eternal  beauty  wandering  on  her  way. 

155 


156  TO   THE  ROSE 

Come  near,  come  near,  come  near  —  Ah,  leave 

me  still 
A  little  space  for  the  rose-breath  to  fill ! 
Lest  I  no  more  hear  common  things  that  crave; 
The  weak  worm  hiding  down  in  its  small  cave, 
The  field  mouse  running  by  me  in  the  grass, 
And  heavy  mortal  hopes  that  toil  and  pass; 
But  seek  alone  to  hear  the  strange  things  said 
By  God  to  the  bright  hearts  of  those  long  dead, 
And  learn  to  chaunt  a  tongue  men  do  not  know. 
Come  near;  I  would,  before  my  time  to  go, 
Sing  of  old  Eire  and  the  ancient  ways : 
Red  Rose,  proud  Rose,  sad  Rose  of  all  my  days. 


FERGUS  AND  THE  DRUID 

Fergus.  The  whole  day  have  I  followed 

in  the  rocks, 
And  you  have  changed  and  flowed  from  shape 

to  shape. 
First  as  a  raven  on  whose  ancient  wings 
Scarcely  a  feather  lingered,  then  you  seemed 
A  weasel  moving  on  from  stone  to  stone, 
And  now  at  last  you  wear  a  human  shape, 
A  thin  gray  man  half  lost  in  gathering  night. 

Druid.   What  would  you,  king  of  the  proud 

Red  Branch  kings  ? 
Fergus.   This  would  I  say,  most  wise  of 

living  souls: 

167 


158  FERGUS  AND   THE  DRUID 

Young  subtle  Conchubar  sat  close  by  me 
When  I  gave  judgment,  and  his  words  were 

wise, 
And  what  to  me  was  burden  without  end, 
To  him  seemed  easy,  so  I  laid  the  crown 
Upon  his  head  to  cast  away  my  care. 
Druid.   What  would  you,  king  of  the  proud 

Red  Branch  kings  ? 
Fergus.  I  feast  amid  my  people  on  the 

hill, 
And  pace  the  woods,  and  drive  my  chariot 

wheels 
In    the    white    border    of    the    murmuring 

sea; 
And  still  I  feel  the  crown  upon  my  head. 
Druid.   What  would  you,  king  of  the  proud 

Red  Branch  kings  ? 


FERGUS  AND   THE  DRUID  159 

Fergus.  I'd  put  away  the  foolish  might 
of  a  king, 
But  learn  the  dreaming  wisdom  that  is  yours. 
Druid.    Look  on  my  thin  gray  hair  and  hol- 
low cheeks, 
And  on  these  hands  that  may  not  lift  the 

sword 
This  body  trembling  like  a  wind-blown  reed. 
No  maiden  loves  me,  no  man  seeks  my  help, 
Because  I  be  not  of  the  things  I  dream. 
Fergus.  A  wild  and  foolish  labourer  is  a 
king, 
To  do  and  do  and  do,  and  never  dream. 
Druid.   Take,  if  you  must,  this  little  bag  of 
dreams ; 
Unloose  the  cord,  and  they  will  wrap  you 
round. 


160  FERGUS  AND   THE  DRUID 

Fergus.  I  see  my  life  go  dripping  like  a 

stream 
From  change  to  change;   I  have  been  many 

things, 
A  green  drop  in  the  surge,  a  gleam  of  light 
Upon  a  sword,  a  fir-tree  on  a  hill, 
An  old  slave  grinding  at  a  heavy  quern, 
A  king  sitting  upon  a  chair  of  gold, 
And  all  these  things  were  wonderful  and  great; 
But  now  I  have  grown  nothing,  being  all, 
And  the  whole  world  weighs  down  upon  my 

heart : 
Ah !   Druid,  Druid,  how  great  webs  of  sorrow 
Lay  hidden  in  the  small  slate-coloured  thing ! 


THE  DEATH  OF  CUCHULAIN 

A  man  came  slowly  from  the  setting  sun, 
To  Forgail's  daughter,  Emer,  in  her  dun, 
And  found  her  dyeing  cloth  with  subtle  care, 
And  said,  casting  aside  his  draggled  hair  : 
"lam  Aleel,  the  swineherd,  whom  you  bid 
Go  dwell  upon  the  sea  cliffs,  vapour  hid; 
But  now  my  years  of  watching  are  no  more." 

Then  Emer  cast  the  web  upon  the  floor, 
And  stretching  out  her  arms,  red  with  the  dye, 
Parted  her  lips  with  a  loud  sudden  cry. 

Looking  on  her,  Aleel,  the  swineherd,  said : 
"Not  any  god  alive,  nor  mortal  dead, 

VOL.   I.  —  M  161 


\ 


162  THE  DEATH  OF  CUCHULAIN 

Has  slain  so  mighty  armies,  so  great  kings, 
Nor  won  the  gold  that  now  Cuchulain  brings." 

"Why  do   you   tremble   thus   from   feet    to 
crown?" 

Aleel,  the  swineherd,  wept  and  cast  him  down 
Upon  the  web-heaped  floor,  and  thus  his  word : 
"With  him  is  one  sweet  throated  like  a  bird, 
And  lovelier  than  the  moon  upon  the  sea; 
He  made  for  her  an  army  cease  to  be." 

"Who  bade  you  tell  these  things?"  and  then 

she  cried 
To  those  about,  "Beat  him  with  thongs  of 

hide 
And  drive  him  from  the  door."     And  thus  it 

was; 


THE  DEATH  OF  CUCHULAIN         163 

And  where  her  son,  Finmole,  on  the  smooth 

grass 
Was  driving  cattle,  came  she  with  swift  feet, 
And  called  out  to  him,  "Son,  it  is  not  meet 
That  you  stay  idling  here  with   flocks  and 

herds." 

"I  have  long  waited,  mother,  for  those  words; 
But  wherefore  now  ?  " 

"  There  is  a  man  to  die  ; 
You  have  the  heaviest  arm  under  the  sky." 

"  My  father  dwells  among  the  sea-worn  bands, 
And  breaks  the  ridge  of  battle  with  his  hands." 

"Nay,  you  are  taller  than  Cuchulain,  son." 


164  THE  DEATH  OF  CUCHULAIN 

"He  is  the  mightiest  man  in  ship  or  dun." 

"Nay,  he  is  old  and  sad  with  many  wars, 
And  weary  of  the  crash  of  battle  cars." 

"I  only  ask  what  way  my  journey  lies, 
For  God,  who  made  you   bitter,  made  you 
wise." 

"The  Red  Branch  kings  a  tireless  banquet 

keep, 
Where  the  sun  falls  into  the  Western  deep. 
Go  there,  and  dwell  on  the  green  forest  rim 
But  tell  alone  your  name  and  house  to  him 
Whose  blade  compels,  and  bid  them  send  you 

one 
Who  has  a  like  vow  from  their  triple  dun." 


THE  DEATH  OF  CUCHULAIN        165 

Between  the  lavish  shelter  of  a  wood 
And  the  gray  tide,  the  Red  Branch  multitude 
Feasted,  and  with  them  old  Cuchulain  dwelt, 
And  his   young  dear  one  close  beside  him 

knelt, 
And  gazed  upon  the  wisdom  of  his  eyes, 
More  mournful  than  the  depth  of  starry  skies, 
And  pondered  on  the  wonder  of  his  days ; 
And  all  around  the  harp-string  told  his  praise, 
And  Conchubar,  the  Red  Branch  king  of  kings, 
With   his   own   fingers   touched   the   brazen 

strings. 
At  last  Cuchulain  spake,  "A  young  man  strays 
Driving  the  deer  along  the  woody  ways. 
I  often  hear  him  singing  to  and  fro 
I  often  hear  the  sweet  sound  of  his  bow, 
Seek  out  what  man  he  is." 


166  THE  DEATH  OF  CUCHULAIN 

One  went  and  came. 
"  He  bade  me  let  all  know  he  gives  his  name 
At  the  sword  point,  and  bade  me  bring  him 

one 
Who  had  a  like  vow  from  our  triple  dun." 

"I  only  of  the  Red  Branch  hosted  now," 
Cuchulain  cried,  "have  made  and  keep  that 
vow." 

After  short  fighting  in  the  leafy  shade, 

He  spake  to  the  young  man,  "Is  there  no  maid 

Who  loves  you,  no  white  arms  to  wrap  you 

round, 
Or  do  you  long  for  the  dim  sleepy  ground, 
That  you  come  here  to   meet  this   ancient 

sword?" 


THE  DEATH  OF  CUCHULAIN         167 

"The  dooms   of  men   are   in   God's   hidden 
hoard." 

"Your  head  a  while  seemed  like  a  woman's 

head 
That  I  loved  once." 

Again  the  fighting  sped, 
But  now  the  war  rage  in  Cuchulain  woke, 
And  through  the  other's  shield  his  long  blade 

broke, 
And  pierced  him. 

"Speak  before  your  breath  is  done." 


u 


I  am  Fimnole,  mighty  Cuchulain's  son." 


"I  put  you  from  your  pain.     I  can  no  more." 


168  THE  DEATH  OF  CUCHTJLAIN 

While  day  its  burden  on  to  evening  bore, 
With  head   bowed   on  his   knees   Cuchulain 

stayed ; 
Then    Conchubar   sent    that   sweet-throated 

maid, 
And  she,  to  win  him,  his  gray  hair  caressed ; 
In  vain  her  arms,  in  vain  her  soft  white  breast. 
Then  Conchubar,  the  subtlest  of  all  men, 
Ranking  his  Druids  round  him  ten  by  ten, 
Spake  thus,  "Cuchulain  will  dwell  there  and 

brood, 
For  three  days  more  in  dreadful  quietude, 
And  then  arise,  and  raving  slay  us  all. 
Go,  cast  on  him  delusions  magical, 
That  he  might  fight  the  waves  of   the  loud 


sea." 


And  ten  by  ten  under  a  quicken  tree, 


THE  DEATH  OF  CUCHULAIN         169 

The  Druids  chaunted,  swaying  in  their  hands 
Tall  wands  of  alder  and  white  quicken  wands. 

In  three  days'  time,  Cuchulain  with  a  moan 
Stood  up,  and  came  to  the  long  sands  alone : 
For  four  days  warred  he  with  the  bitter  tide ; 
And  the  waves  flowed  above  him,  and  he  died. 


THE  ROSE  OF  THE  WORLD 

Who    dreamed    that    beauty   passes   like    a 

dream  ? 
For  these  red  lips,  with  all  their  mournful 

pride, 
Mournful  that  no  new  wonder  may  betide, 
Troy  passed  away  in  one  high  funeral  gleam, 
And  Usna's  children  died. 

We  and  the  labouring  world  are  passing  by: 
Amid  men's  souls,  that  waver  and  give  place, 
Like  the  pale  waters  in  their  wintry  race, 
Under  the  passing  stars,  foam  of  the  sky, 
Lives  on  this  lonely  face. 

170 

"V 


THE  ROSE  OF  THE   WORLD  171 

Bow  down,  archangels,  in  your  dim  abode : 
Before  you  were,  or  any  hearts  to  beat, 
Weary  and  kind  one  lingered  by  His  seat  ; 
He  made  the  world  to  be  a  grassy  road 
Before  her  wandering  feet. 


V 


THE  ROSE  OF  PEACE 

If  Michael,  leader  of  God's  host 

When  Heaven  and  Hell  are  met, 

Looked  down  on  you  from  Heaven's  door-post 

He  would  his  deeds  forget. 

Brooding  no  more  upon  God's  wars 
In  his  Divine  homestead, 
He  would  go  weave  out  of  the  stars 
A  chaplet  for  your  head. 

And  all  folk  seeing  him  bow  down, 
And  white  stars  tell  your  praise, 
Would  come  at  last  to  God's  great  town, 
Led  on  by  gentle  ways ; 

172 


TEE  BOSE  OF  PEACE  173 

And  God  would  bid  His  warfare  cease. 
Saying  all  things  were  well ; 
And  softly  make  a  rosy  peace, 
A  peace  of  Heaven  with  Hell. 


THE  ROSE  OF  BATTLE 

Rose  of  all  Roses,  Rose  of  all  the  World ! 
The  tall  thought-woven  sails,  that  flap  un- 
furled 
Above  the  tide  of  hours,  trouble  the  air, 
And  God's  bell  buoyed  to  be  the  water's  care ; 
While  hushed  from  fear,  or  loud  with  hope,  a 

band 
With  blown,   spray-dabbled  hair  gather  at 

hand. 
Turn  if  you  may  from  battles  never  done, 
I  call,  as  they  go  by  me  one  by  one, 
Danger  no  refuge  holds,  and  war  no  peace, 
For  him  who  hears  love  sing  and  never  cease, 
Beside  her  clean-swept  hearth,  her  quiet  shade: 

174 


THE  ROSE  OF  BATTLE  175 

But  gather  all  for  whom  no  love  hath  made 
A  woven  silence,  or  but  came  to  cast 
A  song  into  the  air,  and  singing  past 
To  smile  on  the  pale  dawn;   and  gather  you 
Who  have  sought  more  than  is  in  rain  or  dew 
Or  in  the  sun  and  moon,  or  on  the  earth, 
Or  sighs  amid  the  wandering,  starry  mirth, 
Or  comes  in  laughter  from  the  sea's  sad  lips; 
And  wage  God's  battles  in  the  long  gray  ships. 
The  sad,  the  lonely,  the  insatiable, 
To  these  Old  Night  shall  all  her  mystery  tell; 
God's  bell  has  claimed  them  by  the  little  cry 
Of  their  sad  hearts,  that  may  not  live  nor  die. 

Rose  of  all  Roses,  Rose  of  all  the  World ! 
You,  too,  have  come  where  the  dim  tides  are 
hurled 


176  THE  ROSE  OF  BATTLE 

Upon  the  wharves  of  sorrow,  and  heard  ring 
The  bell  that  calls  us  on ;  the  sweet  far  thing. 
Beauty  grown  sad  with  its  eternity 
Made  you  of  us,  and  of  the  dim  gray  sea. 
Our  long  ships  loose  thought-woven  sails  and 

wait, 
For  God  has  bid  them  share  an  equal  fate ; 
And  when  at  last  defeated  in  His  wars, 
They  have  gone  down  under  the  same  white 

stars, 
We  shall  no  longer  hear  the  little  cry 
Of  our  sad  hearts,  that  may  not  live  nor  die. 


A  FAERY  SONG 

Sung  by  the  people  of  faery  over  Diarmuid  and 
Grania,  who  lay  in  their  bridal  sleep  under 
a  Cromlech. 

We  who  are  old,  old  and  gay, 

0  so  old ! 

Thousands  of  years,  thousands  of  years 

If  all  were  told : 

Give  to  these  children,  new  from  the  world, 
Silence  and  love  ; 

And  the  long  dew-dropping  hours  of  the  night, 
And  the  stars  above : 

VOL.1. N  177 


178  A  FAERY  SONG 

Give  to  these  children,  new  from  the  world, 
Rest  far  from  men. 
Is  anything  better,  anything  better  ? 
Tell  us  it  then  : 

Us  who  are  old,  old  and  gay : 

0  so  old ! 

Thousands  of  years,  thousands  of  years, 

If  all  were  told. 


THE  LAKE  ISLE  OF  INNISFREE 

I  will  arise  and  go  now,  and  go  to  Innisfree, 
And  a  small  cabin  build  there,  of  clay  and 

wattles  made; 
Nine  bean  rows  will  I  have  there,  a  hive  for  the 

honey  bee, 
And  live  alone  in  the  bee-loud  glade. 

And  I  shall  have  some  peace  there,  for  peace 

comes  dropping  slow, 
Dropping  from  the  veils  of  the  morning  to 

where  the  cricket  sings; 
There  midnight's  all  a  glimmer,  and  noon  a 

purple  glow, 


And  evening  full  of  the  linnet's  wings. 

179 


180      THE  LAKE  ISLE  OF  INNISFREE 

I  will  arise  and  go  now,  for  always  night  and 
day 

I  hear  lake  water  lapping  with  low  sounds  by 
the  shore; 

While  I  stand  on  the  roadway,  or  on  the  pave- 
ments gray, 

I  hear  it  in  the  deep  heart's  core. 


A  CRADLE  SONG 

The  angels  are  stooping 
Above  your  bed ; 
They  weary  of  trooping 
With  the  whimpering  dead. 

God's  laughing  in  heaven 
To  see  you  so  good  ; 
The  Shining  Seven 
Are  gay  with  His  mood. 

I  kiss  you  and  kiss  you, 
My  pigeon,  my  own ; 
Ah,  how  I  shall  miss  you 
When  you  have  grown. 

181 


THE  PITY  OF  LOVE 

A  pity  beyond  all  telling 
Is  hid  in  the  heart  of  love  : 
The  folk  who  are  buying  and  selling; 
The  clouds  on  their  journey  above; 
The  cold  wet  winds  ever  blowing ; 
And  the  shadowy  hazel  grove 
Where  mouse-gray  waters  are  flowing 
Threaten  the  head  that  I  love. 


182 


Is* 

THE  SORROW  OF  LOVE 

The  quarrel  of  the  sparrows  in  the  eaves, 
The   full   round   moon    and    the    star-laden 

sky, 
And    the    loud    song    of    the    ever-singing 

leaves, 
Had  hid  away  earth's  old  and  weary  cry. 

And  then  you  came  with  those  red  mournful 

lips, 
And  with  you  came  the  whole  of  the  world's 

tears, 
And  all  the  trouble  of  her  labouring  ships, 
And  all  the  trouble  of  her  myriad  years. 

183 


184  THE  SORROW  OF  LOVE 

And  now  the  sparrows  warring  in  the  eaves, 
The  curd-pale  moon,  the  white  stars  in  the  sky, 
And  the  loud  chaunting  of  the  unquiet  leaves, 
Are  shaken  with  earth's  old  and  weary  cry. 


£ 


WHEN  YOU  ARE   OLD 

When  you  are  old  and  gray  and  full  of  sleep, 
And  nodding  by  the  fire,  take  down  this  book, 
And  slowly  read,  and  dream  of  the  soft  look 
Your  eyes  had  once,  and  of  their  shadows  deep ; 

How  many  loved  your  moments  of  glad  grace, 
And  loved  your  beauty  with  love  false  or  true ; 
But  one  man  loved  the  pilgrim  soul  in  you, 
And  loved  the  sorrows  of  your  changing  face. 

And  bending  down  beside  the  glowing  bars 
Murmur,  a  little  sadly,  how  love  fled 
And  paced  upon  the  mountains  overhead 
And  hid  his  face  amid  a  crowd  of  stars. 

185 


THE  WHITE  BIRDS 

I  would  that  we  were,  my  beloved,  white  birds 
on  the  foam  of  the  sea ! 

We  tire  of  the  flame  of  the  meteor,  before  it 
can  fade  and  flee ; 

And  the  flame  of  the  blue  star  of  twilight, 
hung  low  on  the  rim  of  the  sky, 

Has  awaked  in  our  hearts,  my  beloved,  a  sad- 
ness that  may  not  die. 

A  weariness  comes  from  those  dreamers,  dew 

dabbled,  the  lily  and  rose; 
Ah,  dream  not  of  them,  my  beloved,  the  flame 

of  the  meteor  that  goes, 

186 


THE   WHITE  BIRDS  187 

Or  the  flame  of  the  blue  star  that  lingers  hung 

low  in  the  fall  of  the  dew : 
For  I  would  we  were  changed  to  white  birds 

on  the  wandering  foam :  I  and  you ! 

I  am  haunted  by  numberless  islands,  and 
many  a  Danaan  shore, 

Where  Time  would  surely  forget  us,  and  Sor- 
row come  near  us  no  more; 

Soon  far  from  the  rose  and  the  lily,  and  fret 
of  the  flames  would  we  be, 

Were  we  only  white  birds,  my  beloved,  buoyed 
out  on  the  foam  of  the  sea ! 


A  DREAM  OF  DEATH 

I  dreamed  that  one  had  died  in  a  strange  place 

Near  no  accustomed  hand ; 

And  they  had  nailed  the  boards  above  her 

face 
The  peasants  of  that  land, 
And,  wondering,  planted  by  her  solitude 
A  cypress  and  a  yew : 
I  came,  and  wrote  upon  a  cross  of  wood, 
Man  had  no  more  to  do  : 
She  was  more  beautiful  than  thy  first  love, 
This  lady  by  the  trees : 
And  gazed  upon  the  mournful  stars  above, 
And  heard  the  mournful  breeze. 

188 


A  DREAM  OF  A  BLESSED  SPIRIT 

All  the  heavy  days  are  over; 
Leave  the  body's  coloured  pride 
Underneath  the  grass  and  clover, 
With  the  feet  laid  side  by  side. 

One  with  her  are  mirth  and  duty; 
Bear  the  gold  embroidered  dress, 
For  she  needs  not  her  sad  beauty, 
To  the  scented  oaken  press. 

Hers  the  kiss  of  Mother  Mary, 
The  long  hair  is  on  her  face  ; 
Still  she  goes  with  footsteps  wary, 
Full  of  earth's  old  timid  grace. 

189 


190    A  DEE  AM  OF  A  BLESSED  SPIRIT 

With  white  feet  of  angels  seven 
Her  white  feet  go  glimmering; 
And  above  the  deep  of  heaven, 
Flame  on  flame  and  wing  on  wing. 


' 


u 


THE  MAN   WHO   DREAMED   OF 
FAERYLAND 

He  stood  among  a  crowd  at  Drumahair; 
His  heart  hung  all  upon  a  silken  dress, 
And  he  had  known  at  last  some  tenderness, 
Before  earth  made  of  him  her  sleepy  care ; 
But  when  a  man  poured  fish  into  a  pile, 
It  seemed  they  raised  their  little  silver  heads, 
And  sang  how  day  a  Druid  twilight  sheds 
Upon  a  dim,  green,  well-beloved  isle, 
Where  people  love  beside  star-laden  seas ; 
How  Time  may  never  mar  their  faery  vows 
Under  the  woven  roofs  of  quicken  boughs : 
The  singing  shook  him  out  of  his  new  ease. 

191 


192     MAN   WHO  DREAMED  OF  FAEBYLAND 

He  wandered  by  the  sands  of  Lisadill ; 
His  mind  ran  all  on  money  cares  and  fears, 
And  he  had  known  at  last  some  prudent  years 
Before  they  heaped  his  grave  under  the  hill; 
But  while  he  passed  before  a  plashy  place, 
A  lug-worm  with  its  gray  and  muddy  mouth 
Sang  how  somewhere  to  north  or  west   or 

south 
There  dwelt  a  gay,  exulting,  gentle  race; 
And  how  beneath  those  three  times  blessed 

skies 
A  Danaan  fruitage  makes  a  shower  of  moons, 
And  as  it  falls  awakens  leafy  tunes : 
And  at  that  singing  he  was  no  more  wise. 

He  mused  beside  the  well  of  Scanavin, 
He  mused  upon  his  mockers :  without  fail 


MAN  WHO  BREAMED  OF  FAEEYLAND      193 

His  sudden  vengeance  were  a  country  tale, 
Now  that  deep  earth  has  drunk  his  body  in; 
But  one  small  knot-grass  growing  by  the  pool 
Told  where,  ah,  little,  all-unneeded  voice  ! 
Old  Silence  bids  a  lonely  folk  rejoice, 
And  chaplet  their  calm  brows  with  leafage 

cool; 
And  how,  when  fades  the  sea-strewn  rose  of 

day, 
A  gentle  feeling  wraps  them  like  a  fleece, 
And  all  their  trouble  dies  into  its  peace : 
The  tale  drove  his  fine  angry  mood  away. 

He  slept  under  the  hill  of  Lugnagall ; 

And  might  have  known  at  last  unhaunted 

sleep 
Under  that  cold  and  vapour-turbaned  steep, 

VOL.   I.  —  O 


194     MAN  WHO  DREAMED  OF  FAERYLAND 

Now  that  old  earth  had  taken  man  and  all: 
Were  not  the  worms  that  spired  about  his 

bones 
A-telling  with  their  low  and  reedy  cry, 
Of  how  God  leans  His  hands  out  of  the  sky, 
To  bless  that  isle  with  honey  in  His  tones; 
That  none  may  feel  the  power  of  squall  and 

wave, 
And  no  one  any  leaf-crowned  dancer  mist 
Until  He  burn  up  Nature  with  a  kiss : 
The  man  has  found  no  comfort  in  the  grave. 


THE    DEDICATION    TO    A    BOOK    OF 

STORIES    SELECTED    FROM    THE 

IRISH    NOVELISTS 

There  was  a  green  branch  hung  with  many  a 

bell 
When  her  own  people  ruled  in  wave-worn 

Eire; 
And  from  its  murmuring  greenness,  calm  of 

faery, 
A  Druid  kindness,  on  all  hearers  fell. 

It  charmed  away  the  merchant  from  his  guile, 
And  turned  the  farmer's  memory  from  his 
cattle, 

195 


196      DEDICATION  TO  A  BOOK  OF  STORIES 

And  hushed  in  sleep   the  roaring  ranks  of 

battle, 
For  all  who  heard  it  dreamed  a  little  while. 

Ah,  Exiles  wandering  over  many  seas, 
Spinning  at  all  times  Eire's  good  to-morrow ! 
Ah,  worldwide  Nation,  always  growing  Sor- 
row! 
I  also  bear  a  bell  branch  full  of  ease. 

I  tore  it  from  green  boughs  winds  tossed  and 

hurled, 
Green    boughs    of    tossing    always,    weary, 

weary ! 
I    tore    it    from   the  green   boughs   of   old 

Eire, 
The  willow  of  the  many-sorrowed  world. 


DEDICATION  TO  A  BOOK  OF  STORIES      197 

Ah,  Exiles,  wandering  over  many  lands ! 
My  bell  branch  murmurs :  the  gay  bells  bring 

laughter, 
Leaping  to  shake  a  cobweb  from  the  rafter; 
The  sad  bells  bow  the  forehead  on  the  hands. 

A  honeyed  ringing :  under  the  new  skies 
They  bring  you  memories  of  old  village  faces; 
Cabins   gone   now,   old   well-sides,   old   dear 

places ; 
And  men  who  loved  the  cause  that  never  dies. 


THE  LAMENTATION  OF  THE  OLD 
PENSIONER 

I  had  a  chair  at  every  hearth, 

When  no  one  turned  to  see, 

With  "Look  at  that  old  fellow  there, 

And  who  may  he  be  ?  " 

And  therefore  do  I  wander  now, 

And  the  fret  lies  on  me. 

The  road-side  trees  keep  murmuring 

Ah,  wherefore  murmur  ye, 

As  in  the  old  days  long  gone  by, 

Green  oak  and  poplar  tree  ? 

The  well-known  faces  are  all  gone 

And  the  fret  lies  on  me. 

108 


THE  BALLAD  OF  FATHER  GILLIGAN 

The  old  priest  Peter  Gilligan 
Was  weary  night  and  day ; 
For  half  his  flock  were  in  their  beds, 
Or  under  green  sods  lay. 

Once,  while  he  nodded  on  a  chair, 
At  the  moth-hour  of  eve, 
Another  poor  man  sent  for  him, 
And  he  began  to  grieve. 

"I  have  no  rest,  nor  joy,  nor  peace, 
For  people  die  and  die"  ; 


And  after  cried  he,  "God  forgive 
My  body  spake,  not  I ! " 

199 


200       THE  BALLAD   OF  FATHER   GILL1GAN 

He  knelt,  and  leaning  on  the  chair 
He  prayed  and  fell  asleep ; 
And  the  moth-hour  went  from  the  fields, 
And  stars  began  to  peep. 

They  slowly  into  millions  grew, 
And  leaves  shook  in  the  wind ; 
And  God  covered  the  world  with  shade, 
And  whispered  to  mankind. 

Upon  the  time  of  sparrow  chirp 
When  the  moths  came  once  more, 
The  old  priest  Peter  Gilligan 
Stood  upright  on  the  floor. 

"Mavrone,  mavrone !  the  man  has  died, 
While  I  slept  on  the  chair" ; 


THE  BALLAD   OF  FATHER   GILLIGAN       201 

He  roused  his  horse  out  of  its  sleep, 
And  rode  with  little  care. 


He  rode  now  as  he  never  rode, 
By  rocky  lane  and  fen ; 
The  sick  man's  wife  opened  the  door : 
'  Father !  you  come  again ! ' 

"And  is  the  poor  man  dead?"  he  cried. 
"  He  died  an  hour  ago," 
The  old  priest  Peter  Gilligan 
In  grief  swayed  to  and  fro. 

"When  you  were  gone,  he  turned  and  died 

As  merry  as  a  bird." 

The  old  priest  Peter  Gilligan 

He  knelt  him  at  that  word. 


202       THE  BALLAD   OF  FATHER   GILL1GAN 

"He  who  hath  made  the  night  of  stars 
For  souls,  who  tire  and  bleed, 
Sent  one  of  His  great  angels  down 
To  help  me  in  my  need. 

"He  who  is  wrapped  in  purple  robes, 
With  planets  in  His  care, 
Had  pity  on  the  least  of  things 
Asleep  upon  a  chair." 


THE  TWO  TREES 

Beloved,  gaze  in  thine  own  heart, 

The  holy  tree  is  growing  there ; 

From  joy  the  holy  branches  start, 

And  all  the  trembling  flowers  they  bear. 

The  changing  colours  of  its  fruit 

Have  dowered  the  stars  with  merry  light ; 

The  surety  of  its  hidden  root 

Has  planted  quiet  in  the  night ; 

The  shaking  of  its  leafy  head 

Has  given  the  waves  their  melody, 

And  made  my  lips  and  music  wed, 

Murmuring  a  wizard  song  for  thee. 
There,  through  bewildered  branches,  go 

203 


^ 


204  THE  TWO   TREES 

Winged  Loves  borne  on  in  gentle  strife, 
Tossing  and  tossing  to  and  fro 
The  flaming  circle  of  our  life. 
When  looking  on  their  shaken  hair, 
And  dreaming  how  they  dance  and  dart, 
Thine  eyes  grow  full  of  tender  care : 
Beloved,  gaze  in  thine  own  heart. 


Gaze  no  more  in  the  bitter  glass 

The  demons,  with  their  subtle  guile, 

Lift  up  before  us  when  they  pass, 

Or  only  gaze  a  little  while ; 

For  there  a  fatal  image  grows, 

With  broken  boughs,  and  blackened  leaves, 

And  roots  half  hidden  under  snows 

Driven  by  a  storm  that  ever  grieves. 

For  all  things  turn  to  barrenness 


THE  TWO   TREES  205 

In  the  dim  glass  the  demons  hold, 

The  glass  of  outer  weariness, 

Made  when  God  slept  in  times  of  old. 

There,  through  the  broken  branches,  go 

The  ravens  of  unresting  thought  ; 

Peering  and  flying  to  and  fro, 

To  see  men's  souls  bartered  and  bought. 

When  they  are  heard  upon  the  wind, 

And  when  they  shake  their  wings ;  alas ! 

Thy  tender  eyes  grow  all  unkind : 

Gaze  no  more  in  the  bitter  glass. 


TO  IRELAND  IN  THE  COMING  TIMES 

Know,  that  I  would  accounted  be 
True  brother  of  that  company, 
Who  sang  to  sweeten  Ireland's  wrong, 
Ballad  and  story,  rann  and  song; 
Nor  be  I  any  less  of  them, 
Because  the  red-rose-bordered  hem 
Of  her,  whose  history  began 
Before  God  made  the  angelic  clan, 
Trails  all  about  the  written  page; 
For  in  the  world's  first  blossoming  age 
The  light  fall  of  her  flying  feet 
Made  Ireland's  heart  begin  to  beat; 

206 


TO  IRELAND  IN  THE  COMING   TIMES      207 

And  still  the  starry  candles  flare 
To  help  her  light  foot  here  and  there; 
And  still  the  thoughts  of  Ireland  brood 
Upon  her  holy  quietude. 

Nor  may  I  less  be  counted  one 

With  Davis,  Mangan,  Ferguson, 

Because  to  him,  who  ponders  well, 

My  rhymes  more  than  their  rhyming  tell 

Of  the  dim  wisdoms  old  and  deep, 

That  God  gives  unto  man  in  sleep. 

For  the  elemental  beings  go 

About  my  table  to  and  fro. 

In  flood  and  fire  and  clay  and  wind, 

They  huddle  from  man's  pondering  mind; 

Yet  he  who  treads  in  austere  ways 

May  surely  meet  their  ancient  gaze. 


208      TO  IRELAND  IN   THE  COMING   TIMES 

Man  ever  journeys  on  with  them 
After  the  red-rose-bordered  hem. 
Ah,  faeries,  dancing  under  the  moon, 
A  Druid  land,  a  Druid  tune ! 

While  still  I  may,  I  write  for  you 
The  love  I  lived,  the  dream  I  knew. 
From  our  birthday,  until  we  die, 
Is  but  the  winking  of  an  eye; 
And  we,  our  singing  and  our  love, 
The  mariners  of  night  above, 
And  all  the  wizard  things  that  go 
About  my  table  to  and  fro, 
Are  passing  on  to  where  may  be, 
In  truth's  consuming  ecstasy, 
No  place  for  love  and  dream  at  all; 
For  God  goes  by  with  white  foot-fall. 


TO  IRELAND  IN  TEE  COMING   TIMES       209 

/  cast  my  heart  into  my  rhymes, 
That  you,  in  the  dim  coming  times, 
May  know  how  my  heart  went  with  them 
After  the  red-rose-bordered  hem. 


VOL.  I. 


THE  WIND  AMONG  THE  REEDS 


THE  HOSTING  OF  THE  SIDHE 

The  host  is  riding  from  Knocknarea 

And  over  the  grave  of  Clooth-na-bare ; 

Caolte  tossing  his  burning  hair 

And  Niamh  calling  Away,  come  away: 

Empty  your  heart  of  its  mortal  dream. 

The  winds  awaken,  the  leaves  whirl  round, 

Our  cheeks  are  pale,  our  hair  is  unbound, 

Our  breasts  are  heaving,  our  eyes  are  a-gleam, 

Our  arms  are  waving,  our  lips  are  apart; 

And  if  any  gaze  on  our  rushing  band, 

We  come  between  him  and  the  deed  of  his  hand, 

We  come  between  him  and  the  hope  of  his 

heart. 

213 


■ 


i 


214         THE  HOSTING   OF  THE  SIDHE 

The  host  is  rushing  'twixt  night  and  day, 
And  where  is  there  hope  or  deed  as  fair  ? 
Caolte  tossing  his  burning  hair, 
And  Niamh  calling  Away,  come  away. 


THE  EVERLASTING  VOICES 

0  sweet  everlasting  voices  be  still ; 
Go  to  the  guards  of  the  heavenly  fold 
And  bid  them  wander  obeying  your  will 
Flame  under  flame,  till  Time  be  no  more ; 
Have  you  not  heard  that  our  hearts  are  old, 
That  you  call  in  birds,  in  wind  on  the  hill, 
In  shaken  boughs,  in  tide  on  the  shore  ? 
0  sweet  everlasting  Voices  be  still. 


215 


THE  MOODS 

Time  drops  in  decay, 

Like  a  candle  burnt  out, 

And  the  mountains  and  woods 

Have  their  day,  have  their  day ; 

What  one  in  the  rout 

Of  the  fire-born  moods, 

Has  fallen  away  ? 


216 


u 


THE  LOVER  TELLS  OF  THE  ROSE  IN 
HIS  HEART 

All  things  uncomely  and  broken,  all  things 

worn  out  and  old, 
The  cry  of  a  child  by  the  roadway,  the  creak 

of  a  lumbering  cart, 
The  heavy  steps  of  the  ploughman,  splashing 

the  wintry  mould, 
Are  wronging  your  image  that  blossoms  a 

rose  in  the  deeps  of  my  heart. 


The  wrong  of  unshapely  things  is  a  wrong  too 

great  to  be  told; 
I  hunger  to  build  them  anew  and  sit  on  a 

green  knoll  apart, 

217 


218      THE    LOVER    TELLS    OF    THE    EOSE 

With  the  earth  and  the  sky  and  the  water, 

remade,  like  a  casket  of  gold 
For  my  dreams  of  your  image  that  blossoms 

a  rose  in  the  deeps  of  my  heart. 


d*~ 


L— 


THE  HOST  OF  THE  AIR 

O'Driscoll  drove  with  a  song, 
The  wild  duck  and  the  drake, 
From  the  tall  and  the  tufted  reeds 
Of  the  drear  Hart  Lake. 

And  he  saw  how  the  reeds  grew  dark 
At  the  coming  of  night  tide, 
And  dreamed  of  the  long  dim  hair 
Of  Bridget  his  bride. 

He  heard  while  he  sang  and  dreamed 
A  piper  piping  away, 

219 


220  THE  HOST  OF  THE  AIR 

And  never  was  piping  so  sad, 
And  never  was  piping  so  gay. 

And  he  saw  young  men  and  young  girls 
Who  danced  on  a  level  place 
And  Bridget  his  bride  among  them, 
With  a  sad  and  a  gay  face. 

The  dancers  crowded  about  him, 
And  many  a  sweet  thing  said, 
And  a  young  man  brought  him  red  wine 
And  a  young  girl  white  bread. 

But  Bridget  drew  him  by  the  sleeve, 
Away  from  the  merry  bands, 
To  old  men  playing  at  cards 
With  a  twinkling  of  ancient  hands. 


THE  HOST  OF  THE  AIR  221 

The  bread  and  the  wine  had  a  doom, 
For  these  were  the  host  of  the  air; 
He  sat  and  played  in  a  dream 
Of  her  long  dim  hair. 


He  played  with  the  merry  old  men 
And  thought  not  of  evil  chance, 
Until  one  bore  Bridget  his  bride 
Away  from  the  merry  dance. 


He  bore  her  away  in  his  arms, 
The  handsomest  young  man  there, 
And  his  neck  and  his  breast  and  his  arms 
Were  drowned  in  her  long  dim  hair. 

O'Driscoll  scattered  the  cards 
And  out  of  his  dream  awoke : 


222  THE  HOST  OF  THE  AIR 

Old  men  and  young  men  and  young  girls 
Were  gone  like  a  drifting  smoke; 

But  he  heard  high  up  in  the  air 
A  piper  piping  away, 
And  never  was  piping  so  sad, 
And  never  was  piping  so  gay. 


THE  FISHERMAN 

Although  you  hide  in  the  ebb  and  flow 

Of  the  pale  tide  when  the  moon  has  set, 

The  people  of  coming  days  will  know 

About  the  casting  out  of  my  net, 

And  how  you  have  leaped  times  out  of  mind 

Over  the  little  silver  cords, 

And  think  that  you  were  hard  and  unkind, 

And  blame  you  with  many  bitter  words. 


223 


A  CRADLE  SONG 

The   Danaan   children   laugh,   in  cradles  of 

wrought  gold, 
And  clap  their  hands  together,  and  half  close 

their  eyes, 
For  they  will  ride  the  North  when  the  ger- 

eagle  flies, 
With  heavy  whitening  wings,  and  a  heart 

fallen  cold : 
I  kiss  my  wailing  child  and  press  it  to  my 

breast, 
And  hear  the  narrow  graves  calling  my  child 

and  me. 

224 


A   CRADLE  SONG  225 

Desolate  winds  that  cry  over  the  wandering 
sea; 

Desolate  winds  that  hover  in  the  flaming 
West; 

Desolate  winds  that  beat  the  doors  of 
Heaven,   and  beat 

The  doors  of  Hell  and  blow  there  many  a 
whimpering  ghost ; 

0  heart  the  winds  have  shaken;  the  unap- 
peasable host 

Is  comelier  than  candles  at  Mother  Mary's 
feet. 


VOL.  I.  — Q 


INTO  THE  TWILIGHT 

Out-worn  heart,  in  a  time  out-worn, 
Come  clear  of  the  nets  of  wrong  and  right ; 
Laugh  heart  again  in  the  gray  twilight, 
Sigh,  heart,  again  in  the  dew  of  the  morn. 

Your  mother  Eire  is  always  young, 
Dew  ever  shining  and  twilight  gray; 
Though  hope  fall  from  you  and  love  decay, 
Burning  in  fires  of  a  slanderous  tongue. 

Come,  heart,  where  hill  is  heaped  upon  hill : 
For  there  the  mystical  brotherhood 
Of  sun  and  moon  and  hollow  and  wood 
And  river  and  stream  work  out  their  will ; 

226 


INTO   THE  TWILIGHT  227 

And  God  stands  winding  His  lonely  horn, 
And  time  and  the  world  are  ever  in  flight ; 
And  love  is  less  kind  than  the  gray  twilight, 
And  hope  is  less  dear  than  the  dew  of  the 
morn. 


THE  SONG  OF  WANDERING  AENGUS 

I  went  out  to  the  hazel  wood, 
Because  a  fire  was  in  my  head, 
And  cut  and  peeled  a  hazel  wand, 
And  hooked  a  berry  to  a  thread ; 
And  when  white  moths  were  on  the  wing, 
And  moth-like  stars  were  flickering  out, 
I  dropped  the  berry  in  a  stream 
And  caught  a  little  silver  trout. 

When  I  had  laid  it  on  the  floor 
I  went  to  blow  the  fire  a-flame, 
But  something  rustled  on  the  floor, 
And  some  one  called  me  by  my  name : 

228 


THE  SONG   OF  WANDERING  AENGUS     229 

It  had  become  a  glimmering  girl 
With  apple  blossom  in  her  hair 
Who  called  me  by  my  name  and  ran 
And  faded  through  the  brightening  air. 

Though  I  am  old  with  wandering 
Through  hollow  lands  and  hilly  lands, 
I  will  find  out  where  she  has  gone, 
And  kiss  her  lips  and  take  her  hands ; 
And  walk  among  long  dappled  grass, 
And  pluck  till  time  and  times  are  done, 
The  silver  apples  of  the  moon, 
The  golden  apples  of  the  sun. 


THE   SONG   OF   THE    OLD  MOTHER 

I  rise  in  the  dawn,  and  I  kneel  and  blow 
Till  the  seed  of  the  fire  flicker  and  glow; 
And  then  I  must  scrub  and  bake  and  sweep 
Till  stars  are  beginning  to  blink  and  peep ; 
And  the  young  lie  long  and  dream  in  their  bed 
Of  the  matching  of  ribbons  for  bosom  and 

head, 
And  their  day  goes  over  in  idleness, 
And  they  sigh  if  the  wind  but  lift  a  tress : 
While  I  must  work  because  I  am  old, 
And  the  seed  of  the  fire  gets  feeble  and  cold. 


230 


• 


THE  FIDDLER  OF  DOONEY 

When  I  play  on  my  fiddle  in  Dooney, 
Folk  dance  like  a  wave  of  the  sea; 
My  cousin  is  priest  in  Kilvarnet, 
My  brother  in  Moharabuiee. 

I  passed  my  brother  and  cousin : 
They  read  in  their  books  of  prayer; 
I  read  in  my  book  of  songs 
I  bought  at  the  Sligo  fair. 


When  we  come  at  the  end  of  time, 
To  Peter  sitting  in  state, 

231 


232  TEE  FIDDLER    OF  DOONEY 

He  will  smile  on  the  three  old  spirits, 
But  call  me  first  through  the  gate ; 

For  the  good  are  always  the  merry, 
Save  by  an  evil  chance, 
And  the  merry  love  the  riddle 
And  the  merry  love  to  dance : 

And  when  the  folk  there  spy  me, 
They  will  all  come  up  to  me, 
With  "Here  is  the  fiddler  of  Dooney !" 
And  dance  like  a  wave  of  the  sea. 


THE  HEART  OF  THE  WOMAN 

O  what  to  me  the  little  room 

That  was  brimmed  up  with  prayer  and  rest ; 

He  bade  me  out  into  the  gloom, 

And  my  breast  lies  upon  his  breast. 

0  what  to  me  my  mother's  care, 
The  house  where  I  was  safe  and  warm ; 
The  shadowy  blossom  of  my  hair 
Will  hide  us  from  the  bitter  storm. 

0  hiding  hair  and  dewy  eyes, 

1  am  no  more  with  life  and  death, 
My  heart  upon  his  warm  heart  lies, 
My  breath  is  mixed  into  his  breath. 

233 


THE  LOVER  MOURNS  FOR  THE  LOSS 
OF  LOVE 

Pale  brows,  still  hands  and  dim  hair, 
I  had  a  beautiful  friend 
And  dreamed  that  the  old  despair 
Would  end  in  love  in  the  end : 
She  looked  in  my  heart  one  day 
And  saw  your  image  was  there ; 
She  has  gone  weeping  away. 


234 


HE  MOURNS  FOR  THE  CHANGE  THAT 
HAS  COME  UPON  HIM  AND  HIS 
BELOVED  AND  LONGS  FOR  THE 
END  OF  THE  WORLD 

Do  you  not  hear  me  calling,  white  deer  with 
no  horns! 

I  have  been  changed  to  a  hound  with  one  red 
ear; 

I  have  been  in  the  Path  of  Stones  and  the 
Wood  of  Thorns, 

For  somebody  hid  hatred  and  hope  and  de- 
sire and  fear 

Under  my  feet  that  they  follow  you  night  and 
day. 

235 


236  LOVER  MOURNS  FOR   THE  CHANGE 

A  man  with  a  hazel  wand  came  without 
sound; 

He  changed  me  suddenly;  I  was  looking  an- 
other way; 

And  now  my  calling  is  but  the  calling  of  a 
hound ; 

And  Time  and  Birth  and  Change  are  hurry- 
ing by. 

I  would  that  the  Boar  without  bristles  had 
come  from  the  West 

And  had  rooted  the  sun  and  moon  and  stars 
out  of  the  sky 

And  lay  in  the  darkness,  grunting,  and  turn- 
ing to  his  rest. 


HE  BIDS  HIS  BELOVED  BE  AT  PEACE 

I  hear  the  Shadowy  Horses,  their  long  manes 

a-shake, 
Their  hoofs  heavy  with  tumult,  their  eyes 

glimmering  white ; 
The    North    unfolds    above    them    clinging, 

creeping  night, 
The  East  her  hidden  joy  before  the  morning 

break, 
The  West  weeps  in  pale  dew  and  sighs  pass- 
ing away, 
The  South  is  pouring  down  roses  of  crimson 

fire: 
0  vanity  of  Sleep,   Hope,   Dream,   endless 

Desire, 

237 


238   HE  BIDS  HIS  BELOVED  BE  AT  PEACE 

The  Horses  of  Disaster  plunge  in  the  heavy 

clay: 
Beloved,  let  your  eyes  half  close,  and  your 

heart  beat 
Over  my  heart,  and  your  hair  fall  over  my 

breast, 
Drowning  love's  lonely  hour  in  deep  twilight 

of  rest, 
And  hiding  their  tossing  manes  and  their 

tumultuous  feet. 


HE   REPROVES   THE   CURLEW 

0,  curlew,  cry  no  more  in  the  air, 
Or  only  to  the  waters  in  the  West  ; 
Because  your  crying  brings  to  my  mind 
Passion-dimmed  eyes  and  long  heavy  hair 
That  was  shaken  out  over  my  breast : 
There  is  enough  evil  in  the  crying  of  wind. 


239 


HE  REMEMBERS  FORGOTTEN  BEAUTY 

When  my  arms  wrap  you  round  I  press 

My  heart  upon  the  loveliness 

That  has  long  faded  from  the  world ; 

The  jewelled  crowns  that  kings  have  hurled 

In  shadowy  pools,  when  armies  fled ; 

The  love-tales  wrought  with  silken  thread 

By  dreaming  ladies  upon  cloth 

That  has  made  fat  the  murderous  moth ; 

The  roses  that  of  old  time  were 

Woven  by  ladies  in  their  hair, 

The  dew-cold  lilies  ladies  bore 

Through  many  a  sacred  corridor 

Where  such  gray  clouds  of  incense  rose 

240 


HE  REMEMBERS  FORGOTTEN  BEAUTY    241 

That  only  the  gods'  eyes  did  not  close : 
For  that  pale  breast  and  lingering  hand 
Come  from  a  more  dream-heavy  land, 
A  more  dream-heavy  hour  than  this; 
And  when  you  sigh  from  kiss  to  kiss 
I  hear  white  Beauty  sighing,  too, 
For  hours  when  all  must  fade  like  dew 
But  flame  on  flame,  deep  under  deep, 
Throne  over  throne,  where  in  half  sleep 
Their  swords  upon  their  iron  knees 


Brood  her  high  lonely  mysteries. 


VOL.  I. R 


A  POET  TO  HIS  BELOVED 

I  bring  you  with  reverent  hands 
The  books  of  my  numberless  dreams ; 
White  woman  that  passion  has  worn 
As  the  tide  wears  the  dove-gray  sands, 
And  with  heart  more  old  than  the  horn 
That  is  brimmed  from  the  pale  fire  of  time : 
White  woman  with  numberless  dreams 
I  bring  you  my  passionate  rhyme. 


242 


HE    GIVES    HIS    BELOVED    CERTAIN 
RHYMES 

Fasten  your  hair  with  a  golden  pin, 
And  bind  up  every  wandering  tress; 
I  bade  my  heart  build  these  poor  rhymes : 
It  worked  at  them,  day  out,  day  in, 
Building  a  sorrowful  loveliness 
Out  of  the  battles  of  old  times. 

You  need  but  lift  a  pearl-pale  hand, 
And  bind  up  your  long  hair  and  sigh; 
And  all  men's  hearts  must  burn  and  beat ; 
And  candle-like  foam  on  the  dim  sand, 
And  stars  climbing  the  dew-dropping  sky, 
Live  but  to  light  your  passing  feet. 

243 


TO  MY  HEART,  BIDDING  IT  HAVE  NO 

FEAR 

Be  you  still,  be  you  still,  trembling  heart ; 
Remember  the  wisdom  out  of  the  old  days : 
Him  who  trembles  before  the  flame  and  the  flood, 
And  the  winds  that  blow  through  the  starry  ways, 
Let  the  starry  winds  and  the  flame  and  the  flood 
Cover  over  and  hide,  for  he  has  no  part 
With  the  proud,  majestical  multitude. 


244 


w 


THE  CAP  AND  BELLS 

The  jester  walked  in  the  garden : 
The  garden  had  fallen  still ; 
He  bade  his  soul  rise  upward 
And  stand  on  her  window-sill. 

It  rose  in  a  straight  blue  garment, 
When  owls  began  to  call : 
It  had  grown  wise-tongued  by  thinking 
Of  a  quiet  and  light  footfall ; 

But  the  young  queen  would  not  listen ; 
She  rose  in  her  pale  night  gown ; 

245 


246  THE  CAP  AND  BELLS 

She  drew  in  the  heavy  casement 
And  pushed  the  latches  down. 

He  bade  his  heart  go  to  her, 
When  the  owls  called  out  no  more ; 
In  a  red  and  quivering  garment 
It  sang  to  her  through  the  door. 

It  had  grown  sweet-tongued  by  dreaming, 
Of  a  nutter  of  flower-like  hair  ; 
But  she  took  up  her  fan  from  the  table 
And  waved  it  off  on  the  air. 

"I  have  cap  and  bells,"  he  pondered, 
"I  will  send  them  to  her  and  die;" 
And  when  the  morning  whitened 
He  left  them  where  she  went  by. 


THE  CAP  AND  BELLS  247 

She  laid  them  upon  her  bosom, 
Under  a  cloud  of  her  hair, 
And  her  red  lips  sang  them  a  love  song : 
Till  stars  grew  out  of  the  air. 

She  opened  her  door  and  her  window, 
And  the  heart  and  the  soul  came  through, 
To  her  right  hand  came  the  red  one, 
To  her  left  hand  came  the  blue. 


They  set  up  a  noise  like  crickets, 
A  chattering  wise  and  sweet, 
And  her  hair  was  a  folded  flower 
And  the  quiet  of  love  in  her  feet. 


THE   VALLEY   OF   THE    BLACK    PIG 

The  dews  drop  slowly  and  dreams  gather: 

unknown  spears 
Suddenly  hurtle  before  my  dream-awakened 

eyes, 
And  then  the  clash  of  fallen  horsemen  and 

the  cries 
Of  unknown  perishing  armies  beat  about  my 

ears. 
We  who  still  labour  by  the  cromlec  on  the 

shore, 
The  grey  cairn  on  the  hill,  when  day  sinks 

drowned  in  dew, 

248 


THE   VALLEY  OF  THE  BLACK  PIG     249 

Being  weary  of  the  world's  empires,  bow  down 

to  you 
Master  of  the  still  stars  and  of  the  flaming 

door. 


THE  LOVER  ASKS  FORGIVENESS  BE- 
CAUSE OF  HIS  MANY  MOODS 

If  this  importunate  heart  trouble  your  peace 
With  words  lighter  than  air, 

Or  hopes  that  in  mere  hoping  flicker  and 

cease ; 
Crumple  the  rose  in  your  hair ; 
And   cover  your   lips  with   odorous  twilight 

and  say, 
"0  Hearts  of  wind-blown  flame ! 
0  Winds,  elder  than  changing  of  night  and 

day, 
That  murmuring  and  longing  came, 
From  marble  cities  loud  with  tabors  of  old 
In  dove-gray  faery  lands ; 

250 


THE  LOVER  ASKS  FORGIVENESS     251 

From  battle  banners  fold  upon  purple  fold, 

Queens  wrought  with  glimmering  hands; 

That  saw  young  Niamh  hover  with  love-lorn 
face 

Above  the  wandering  tide ; 

And  lingered  in  the  hidden  desolate  place, 

Where  the  last  Phoenix  died 

And  wrapped  the  flames  above  his  holy  head ; 

And  still  murmur  and  long : 

0  Piteous  Hearts,  changing  till   change   be 
dead 

In  a  tumultuous  song :" 

And  cover  the  pale  blossoms  of  your  breast 

With  your  dim  heavy  hair, 

And  trouble  with  a  sigh  for  all  things  long- 
ing for  rest 

The  odorous  twilight  there. 


HE  TELLS  OF  A  VALLEY  FULL  OF 

LOVERS 

I  dreamed  that  I  stood  in  a  valley,  and  amid 
sighs, 

For  happy  lovers  passed  two  by  two  where  I 
stood ; 

And  I  dreamed  my  lost  love  came  stealthily 
out  of  the  wood 

With  her  cloud-pale  eyelids  falling  on  dream- 
dimmed  eyes: 

I  cried  in  my  dream  "0  women,  bid  the  young 
men  lay 

Their  heads  on  your  knees,  and  drown  their 
eyes  with  your  hair, 

252 


*v- 


HE  TELLS  OF  A    VALLEY  253 


Or  remembering  hers  they  will  find  no  other 
face  fair 

Till  all  the  valleys  of  the  world  have  been  with- 
ered away" 


HE  TELLS  OF  THE  PERFECT  BEAUTY 

0  cloud-pale  eyelids,  dream-dimmed  eyes 
The  poets  labouring  all  their  days 
To  build  a  perfect  beauty  in  rhyme 
Are  overthrown  by  a  woman's  gaze 
And  by  the  unlabouring  brood  of  the  skies: 
And  therefore  my  heart  will  bow,  when  dew 
Is  dropping  sleep,  until  God  burn  time, 
Before  the  unlabouring  stars  and  you. 


254 


HE  HEARS  THE  CRY  OF  THE  SEDGE 

I  wander  by  the  edge 

Of  this  desolate  lake 

Where  wind  cries  in  the  sedge 

Until  the  axle  break 

That  keeps  the  stars  in  their  round, 

And  hands  hurl  in  the  deep 

The  banners  of  East  and  West, 

And  the  girdle  of  light  is  unbound, 

Your  breast  will  not  lie  by  the  breast 

Of  your  beloved  in  sleep. 


255 


HE   THINKS  t0F   THOSE   WHO   HAVE 
SPOKEN  EVIL  OF  HIS  BELOVED 

Half  close  your  eyelids,  loosen  your  hair, 
And  dream  about  the  great  and  their  pride ; 
They  have  spoken  against  you  everywhere, 
But  weigh  this  song  with  the  great  and  their 

pride ; 
I  made  it  out  of  a  mouthful  of  air, 
Their  children's  children  shall  say  they  have 

lied. 


256 


THE  BLESSED 

Cumhal  called  out,  bending  his  head, 
Till  Dathi  came  and  stood, 
With  a  blink  in  his  eyes  at  the  cave  mouth, 
Between  the  wind  and  the  wood. 

And  Cumhal  said,  bending  his  knees, 
"I  have  come  by  the  windy  way 
To  gather  the  half  of  your  blessedness 
And  learn  to  pray  when  you  pray. 

"I  can  bring  you  salmon  out  of  the  streams 
And  heron  out  of  the  skies." 
But  Dathi  folded  his  hands  and  smiled 
With  the  secrets  of  God  in  his  eyes. 

vol.  i.  —  s  257 


258  THE  BLESSED 

And  Cumhal  saw  like  a  drifting  smoke 

All  manner  of  blessed  souls, 

Women  and  children,  young  men  with  books, 

And  old  men  with  croziers  and  stoles. 

"Praise  God  and  God's  mother,"  Dathi  said, 
"  For  God  and  God's  mother  have  sent 
The  blessedest  souls  that  walk  in  the  world 
To  fill  your  heart  with  content." 

"And  which  is  the  blessedest,"  Cumhal  said, 
"  Where  all  are  comely  and  good? 
Is  it  these  that  with  golden  thuribles 
Are  singing  about  the  wood  ?  " 

"My  eyes  are  blinking,"  Dathi  said, 
"  With  the  secrets  of  God  half  blind, 


THE  BLESSED  259 

But  I  can  see  where  the  wind  goes 
And  follow  the  way  of  the  wind; 


( c 


And  blessedness  goes  where  the  wind  goes, 
And  when  it  is  gone  we  are  dead ; 
I  see  the  blessedest  soul  in  the  world 
And  he  nods  a  drunken  head. 

"  0  blessedness  comes  in  the  night  and  the  day 
And  whither  the  wise  heart  knows ; 
And  one  has  seen  in  the  redness  of  wine 
The  Incorruptible  Rose, 

"That  drowsily  drops  faint  leaves  on  him 
And  the  sweetness  of  desire, 
While  time  and  the  world  are  ebbing  away 
In  twilights  of  dew  and  of  fire." 


THE  SECRET  ROSE 

Far  off,  most  secret,  and  inviolate  Rose, 
Enfold  me  in  my  hour  of  hours ;  where  those 
Who  sought  thee  in  the  Holy  Sepulchre, 
Or  in  the  wine  vat,  dwell  beyond  the  stir 
And  tumult  of  defeated  dreams;  and  deep 
Among  pale  eyelids,  heavy  with  the  sleep 
Men  have  named  beauty.    Thy  great  leaves 

enfold 
The  ancient  beards,  the  helms  of  ruby  and 

gold 
Of  the  crowned  Magi;    and  the  king  whose 

eyes 
Saw  the  Pierced  Hands  and  Rood  of  elder 

rise 

260 


THE  SECRET  ROSE  261 

In  druid  vapour  and  make  the  torches  dim ; 
Till  vain  frenzy  awoke  and  he  died ;  and  him 
Who  met  Fand  walking  among  flaming  clew 
By  a  gray  shore  where  the  wind  never  blew, 
And  lost  the  world  and  Emer  for  a  kiss ; 
And  him  who  drove  the  gods  out  of  their  liss, 
And  till  a  hundred  morns  had  flowered  red, 
Feasted  and  wept  the  barrows  of  his  dead; 
And  the  proud  dreaming  king  who  flung  the 

crown 
And  sorrow  away,  and  calling  bard  and  clown 
Dwelt  among  wine-stained  wanderers  in  deep 

woods ; 
And  him  who  sold  tillage,  and  house,  and 

goods, 
And  sought  through  lands  and  islands  num- 
berless years, 


262  THE  SECRET  ROSE 

Until  he  found  with  laughter  and  with  tears, 

A  woman,  of  so  shining  loveliness, 

That  men  threshed  corn  at  midnight  by  a 

tress, 
A  little  stolen  tress.     I,  too,  await 
The  hour  of  thy  great  wind  of  love  and  hate. 
When  shall  the  stars  be  blown  about  the  sky, 
Like  the  sparks  blown  out  of  a  smithy,  and 

die? 
Surely  thine  hour  has  come,  thy  great  wind 

blows, 
Far  off,  most  secret,  and  inviolate  Rose  ? 


THE    LOVER    MOURNS    BECAUSE    OF 
HIS  WANDERINGS 

0  where  is  our  Mother  of  Peace 
Nodding  her  purple  hood  ? 

For  the  winds  that  awakened  the  stars 
Are  blowing  through  my  blood. 

1  would  that  the  death-pale  deer 
Had  come  through  the  mountain  side, 
And  trampled  the  mountain  away, 
And  drunk  up  the  murmuring  tide ; 
For  the  winds  that  awakened  the  stars 
Are  blowing  through  my  blood, 

And  our  Mother  of  Peace  has  forgot  me 
Under  her  purple  hood. 

263 


THE  TRAVAIL  OF  PASSION 

When  the  flaming  lute-thronged  angelic  door 
is  wide ; 

When  an  immortal  passion  breathes  in  mor- 
tal clay; 

Our  hearts  endure  the  scourge,  the  plaited 
thorns,  the  way 

Crowded  with  bitter  faces,  the  wounds  in 
palm  and  side, 

The  hyssop-heavy  sponge,  the  flowers  by 
Kidron  stream : 

We  will  bend  down  and  loosen  our  hair  over 
you, 

264 


THE  TRAVAIL   OF  PASSION  265 

That  it  may  drop   faint  perfume,   and  be 

heavy  with  dew, 
Lilies  of  death-pale  hope,  roses  of  passionate 

dream. 


THE   LOVER   PLEADS    WITH   HIS 
FRIEND  FOR  OLD  FRIENDS 

Though  you  are  in  your  shining  days, 

Voices  among  the  crowd 

And  new  friends  busy  with  your  praise, 

Be  not  unkind  or  proud, 

But  think  about  old  friends  the  most : 

Time's  bitter  flood  will  rise, 

Your  beauty  perish  and  be  lost 

For  all  eyes  but  these  eyes. 


966 


A  LOVER  SPEAKS   TO  THE  HEARERS 
OF  HIS  SONGS  IN  COMING  DAYS 

0,  women,  kneeling  by  your  altar  rails  long 

hence, 
When  songs  I  wove  for  my  beloved  hide  the 

prayer, 
And  smoke  from  this  dead  heart  drifts  through 

the  violet  air 
And  covers  away  the  smoke  of  myrrh  and 

frankincense ; 
Bend  down  and  pray  for  the  great  sin  I  wove 

in  song, 
Till  Mary  of  the  wounded  heart  cry  a  sweet 

cry, 

267 


268      A  LOVER  TO  HEARERS  OF  HIS  SONGS 

And  call  to  my  beloved  and  me:  "No  longer 

fly 

Amid    the    hovering,    piteous,      penitential 
throng." 


u 


THE  POET  PLEADS  WITH  THE  ELE- 
MENTAL POWERS 

The  Powers  whose  name  and  shape  no  living 

creature  knows 
Have  pulled  the  Immortal  Rose; 
And  though  the  Seven  Lights  bowed  in  their 

dance  and  wept, 
The  Polar  Dragon  slept, 
His  heavy  rings  uncoiled  from    glimmering 

deep  to  deep : 
When  will  he  wake  from  sleep? 

Great  Powers  of  falling  wave  and  wind  and 
windy  fire, 

269 


270  HE  PLEADS  WITH  ELEMENTAL  POWERS 

With  your  harmonious  choir 

Encircle  her  I  love  and  sing  her  into  peace, 

That  my  old  care  may  cease ; 

Unfold  your  flaming  wings  and  cover  out  of 

sight 
The  nets  of  day  and  night. 

Dim  Powers  of  drowsy  thought,  let  her  no 

longer  be 
Like  the  pale  cup  of  the  sea, 
When  winds  have  gathered  and  sun  and  moon 

burned  dim 
Above  its  cloudy  rim  ; 
But  let  a  gentle  silence  wrought  with  music 

flow 
Whither  her  footsteps  go. 


HE  WISHES   HIS   BELOVED   WERE 
DEAD 

Were  you  but  lying  cold  and  dead, 
And  lights  were  paling  out  of  the  West, 
You  would  come  hither,  and  bend  your  head, 
And  I  would  lay  my  head  on  your  breast ; 
And  you  would  murmur  tender  words, 
Forgiving  me,  because  you  were  dead : 
Nor  would  you  rise  and  hasten  away, 
Though  you  have  the  will  of  the  wild  birds, 
But  know  your  hair  was  bound  and  wound 
About  the  stars  and  moon  and  sun : 
0  would  beloved  that  you  lay 
Under  the  dock-leaves  in  the  ground, 
While  lights  were  paling  one  by  one. 

271 


w 


HE    WISHES    FOR    THE    CLOTHS    OF 
HEAVEN 

Had  I  the  heavens'  embroidered  cloths, 
Enwrought  with  golden  and  silver  light, 
The  blue  and  the  dim  and  the  dark  cloths 
Of  night  and  light  and  the  half  light, 
I  would  spread  the  cloths  under  your  feet : 
But  I,  being  poor,  have  only  my  dreams; 
I  have  spread  my  dreams  under  your  feet  ; 
Tread  softly  because  you  tread  on  my  dreams. 


272 


> 

HE  THINKS  OF  HIS  PAST  GREATNESS 
WHEN  A  PART  OF  THE  CONSTELLA- 
TIONS OF  HEAVEN 

I  have  drunk  ale  from  the  Country  of  the 

Young 
And  weep  because  I  know  all  things  now : 
I  have  been  a  hazel  tree  and  they  hung 
The  Pilot  Star  and  the  Crooked  Plough 
Among  my  leaves  in  times  out  of  mind : 
I  became  a  rush  that  horses  tread : 
I  became  a  man,  a  hater  of  the  wind, 
Knowing  one,  out  of  all  things,  alone,  that  his 

head 
Would  not  lie  on  the  breast  or  his  lips  on  the 

hair 
Of  the  woman  that  he  loves,  until  he  dies ; 
Although  the  rushes  and  the  fowl  of  the  air 
Cry  of  his  love  with  their  pitiful  cries. 

vol.  i.  — t  273 


IN   THE   SEVEN  WOODS 


^ 


jsjvf*  \ 


IN  THE  SEVEN  WOODS 

I  have  heard  the  pigeons  of  the  Seven  Woods 
Make  their  faint  thunder,  and  the  garden  bees 
Hum  in  the  lime  tree  flowers ;  and  put  away 
The  unavailing  outcries  and  the  old  bitterness 
That  empty  the  heart.  I  have  forgot  awhile 
Tara  uprooted,  and  new  commonness 
Upon  the  throne  and  crying  about  the  streets 
And  hanging  its  paper  flowers  from  post  to 

post, 
Because  it  is  alone  of  all  things  happy. 
I  am  contented  for  I  know  that  Quiet 

277 


278  IN  THE  SEVEN   WOODS 

Wanders  laughing  and  eating  her  wild  heart 
Among  pigeons  and  bees,  while  that  Great 

Archer, 
Who  but  awaits  His  hour  to  shoot,  still  hangs 
A  cloudy  quiver  over  Parc-na-Lee. 
August,  1902. 


THE  ARROW 

I  thought  of  your  beauty,  and  this  arrow, 
Made  out  of  a  wild  thought,  is  in  my  marrow. 
There's  no  man  may  look  upon  her,  no  man; 
As  when  newly  grown  to  be  a  woman, 

Blossom   pale,    she   pulled    down    the    pale 

blossom 
At  the  moth  hour  and  hid  it  in  her  bosom. 
This  beauty's  kinder  yet  for  a  reason 
I  could  weep  that  the  old  is  out  of  season. 


279 


THE  FOLLY    OF   BEING   COMFORTED 

One  that  is  ever  kind  said  yesterday : 
"Your  well  beloved's  hair  has  threads  of  grey, 
And  little  shadows  come  about  her  eyes ; 
Time  can  but  make  it  easier  to  be  wise, 
Though  now  it's  hard,  till  trouble  is  at  an  end; 
And  so  be  patient,  be  wise  and  patient,  friend." 
But  heart,  there  is  no  comfort,  not  a  grain; 
Time  can  but  make  her  beauty  over  again, 
Because  of  that  great  nobleness  of  hers ; 
The  fire  that  stirs  about  her,  when  she  stirs 
Burns  but  more  clearly.     0  she  had  not  these 

wavs, 
When  all  the  wild  summer  was  in  her  gaze. 
0  heart !  0  heart !  if  she'd  but  turn  her  head, 
You'd  know  the  folly  of  being  comforted. 

280 


OLD  MEMORY 

I  thought  to  fly  to  her  when  the  end  of  day 

Awakens  an  old  memory,  and  say, 

"  Your  strength,  that  is  so  lofty  and  fierce  and 

kind, 
It  might  call  up  a  new  age,  calling  to  mind 
The  queens  that  were  imagined  long  ago, 
Is  but  half  yours :  he  kneaded  in  the  dough 
Through  the  long  years  of  youth,  and  who 

would  have  thought 
It  all,  and  more  than  it  all,  would  come  to 

naught, 
And  that  dear  words  meant  nothing?"     But 

enough, 

281 


282  OLD  MEMORY 

For  when  we  have  blamed  the  wind  we  can 

blame  love ; 
Or,  if  there  needs  be  more,  be  nothing  said 
That  would  be  harsh  for  children  that  have 

strayed. 


NEVER    GIVE    ALL    THE    HEART 

Never  give  all  the  heart,  for  love 
Will  hardly  seem  worth  thinking  of 
To  passionate  women,  if  it  seem 
Certain,  and  they  never  dream 
That  it  fades  out  from  kiss  to  kiss ; 
For  everything  that's  lovely  is 
But  a  brief  dreamy  kind  delight. 
0  never  give  the  heart  outright 
For  they,  for  all  smooth  lips  can  say, 
Have  given  their  hearts  up  to  the  play. 
And  who  could  play  it  well  enough 
If  deaf  and  dumb  and  blind  with  love  ? 
He  that  made  this  knows  all  the  cost 
For  he  gave  all  his  heart  and  lost. 

283 


r 


\ 


THE  WITHERING  OF  THE   BOUGHS 

I  cried  when  the  moon  was  murmuring  to  the 

birds, 
"  Let  peewit  call  and  curlew  cry  where  they 

will, 
I  long  for  your  merry  and  tender  and  pitiful 

words, 
For  the  roads  are  unending,  and  there  is  no 

place  to  my  mind." 
The  honey-pale  moon  lay  low  on  the  sleepy 

hill, 
And   I    fell   asleep   upon   lonely   Echtge   of 

streams. 

284 


THE   WITHERING   OF  THE  BOUGHS      285 

No  boughs  have  withered  because   of   the 

wintry  wind; 
The  boughs  have  withered  because  I  have 

told  them  my  dreams. 

I  know  of  the  leafy  paths  that  the  witches 

take, 
Who  come  with  their  crowns  of  pearl  and 

their  spindles  of  wool, 
And  their  secret  smile,  out  of  the  depths 

of  the  lake; 
I  know  where  a  dim  moon  drifts,  where  the 

Danaan  kind 
Wind   and  unwind  their  dances   when   the 

light  grows  cool 
On  the  island  lawns,  their  feet  where  the 

pale  foam  gleams. 


286     THE   WITHERING   OF  THE  BOUGHS 

No  boughs  have  withered  because   of   the 

wintry  wind; 
The  boughs  have  withered  because  I  have  told 

them  my  dreams. 

I  know  of  the  sleepy  country,  where  swans  fly 

round 
Coupled  with  golden  chains,  and  sing  as  they 

fly. 

A  king  and  a  queen  are  wandering  there,  and 

the  sound 
Has  made  them  so  happy  and  hopeless,  so 

deaf  and  so  blind 
With  wisdom,  they  wander  till  all  the  years 

have  gone  by; 
I  know,  and  the  curlew  and  peewit  on  Echtge 

of  streams. 


THE   WITHERING   OF  THE  BOUGHS     287 

No  boughs  have  withered  because  of  the  wintry 

wind ; 
The  boughs  have  withered  because  I  have 

told  them  my  dreams. 


•     ADAM'S  CURSE 

We  sat  together  at  one  summer's  end, 

That  beautiful  mild  woman,  your  close  friend, 

And  you  and  I,  and  talked  of  poetry. 

I  said :  "A  line  will  take  us  hours  maybe; 
Yet  if  it  does  not  seem  a  moment's  thought, 
Our    stitching    and    unstitching    has    been 

naught. 
Better  go  down  upon  your  marrow  bones 
And  scrub  a   kitchen   pavement,  or   break 

stones 
Like  an  old  pauper,  in  all  kinds  of  weather; 

288 


ADAM'S  CURSE  289 

For  to  articulate  sweet  sounds  together 
Is  to  work  harder  than  all  these,  and  yet 
Be  thought  an  idler  by  the  noisy  set 
Of  bankers,  schoolmasters,  and  clergymen 
The  martyrs  call  the  world." 

That  woman  then 
Murmured  with  her  young  voice,  for  whose 

mild  sake 
There's  many  a  one  shall  find  out  all  heartache 
In  finding  that  it's  young  and  mild  and  low : 
"There  is  one  thing  that  all  we  women  know, 
Although  we  never  heard  of  it  at  school  — - 
That  we  must  labour  to  be  beautiful." 

I  said :   "It's  certain  there  is  no  fine  thing 
Since  Adam's  fall  but  needs  much  labouring. 

VOL.   I. U 


290  ADAM'S  CURSE 

There  have  been  lovers  who  thought  love 

should  be 
So  much  compounded  of  high  courtesy 
That  they  would  sigh  and  quote  with  learned 

looks 
Precedents  out  of  beautiful  old  books; 
Yet  now  it  seems  an  idle  trade  enough." 

We  sat  grown  quiet  at  the  name  of  love; 
We  saw  the  last  embers  of  daylight  die, 
And  in  the  trembling  blue-green  of  the  sky 
A  moon,  worn  as  if  it  had  been  a  shell 
Washed  by  time's  waters  as  they  rose  and  fell 
About  the  stars  and  broke  in  days  and  years. 

I  had  a  thought  for  no  one's  but  your  ears; 
That  you  were  beautiful,  and  that  I  strove 


ADAM'S   CURSE  291 

To  love  you  in  the  old  highway  of  love  ; 
That  it  had  all  seemed  happy,  and  yet  we'd 

grown 
As  weary  hearted  as  that  hollow  moon. 


V 


RED  HANRAHAN'S  SONG  ABOUT 
IRELAND 

The  old  brown  thorn  trees  break  in  two  high 

over  Cummen  Strand, 
Under  a  bitter  black  wind  that  blows  from 

the  left  hand ; 
Our  courage  breaks  like  an  old  tree  in  a  black 

wind  and  dies, 
But  we  have  hidden  in  our  hearts  the  flame 

out  of  the  eyes 
Of  Cathleen,  the  daughter  of  Houlihan. 

The  wind  has  bundled  up  the  clouds  high  over 

Knocknarea, 
And  thrown  the  thunder  on  the  stones  for  all 

that  Maeve  can  say. 

292 


\aj 


RED  HANRAHAN'S   SONG  293 

Angers  that  are  like  noisy  clouds  have  set  our 

hearts  abeat; 
But  we  have  all  bent  low  and  low  and  kissed 

the  quiet  feet 
Of  Cathleen,  the  daughter  of  Houlihan. 

The  yellow  pool  has  overflowed  high  up  on 

Clooth-na-Bare, 
For  the  wet  winds  are  blowing  out  of  the 

clinging  air ; 
Like  heavy  flooded  waters  our  bodies  and  our 

blood 
But  purer  than  a  tall  candle  before  the  Holy 

Rood 
Is  Cathleen,  the  daughter  of  Houlihan. 


THE  OLD   MEN  ADMIRING   THEM- 
SELVES IN  THE  WATER 

I  heard  the  old,  old  men  say, 

"  Everything  alters, 

And  one  by  one  we  drop  away." 

They  had  hands  like  claws,  and  their  knees 

Were  twisted  like  the  old  thorn  trees 

By  the  waters. 

I  heard  the  old,  old  men  say, 

"  All  that's  beautiful  drifts  away 


Like  the  waters." 


&* 


204 


UNDER  THE  MOON 

I  have  no  happiness  in  dreaming  of  Bryce- 

linde, 
Nor  Avalon  the  grass-green  hollow,  nor  Joyous 

Isle, 
Where  one  found  Lancelot  crazed  and  hid 

him  for  a  while ; 
Nor  Ulad,  when  Naoise  had  thrown  a  sail 

upon  the  wind, 
Nor  lands  that  seem  too  dim  to  be  burdens  on 

the  heart ; 
Land-under-Wave,  where  out  of  the  moon's 

light  and  the  sun's 

295 


296  UNDER    THE  MOON 

Seven  old  sisters  wind  the  threads  of  the  long- 
lived  ones; 
Land-of-the-Tower,  where  Aengus  has  thrown 

the  gates  apart, 
And  Wood-of- Wonders,  where  one  kills  an  ox 

at  dawn, 
To  find  it  when  night  falls  laid  on  a  golden  bier : 
Therein  are  many  queens  like  Branwen  and 

Guinivere ; 
And  Niamh  and  Laban  and  Fand,  who  could 

change  to  an  otter  or  fawn, 
And    the    wood-woman,    whose    lover    was 

changed  to  a  blue-eyed  hawk ; 
And  whether  I  go  in  my  dreams  by  woodland, 

or  dun,  or  shore, 
Or  on  the  unpeopled  waves  with  kings  to  pull 

at  the  oar, 


UNDER   THE  MOON  297 

I  hear  the  harp-string  praise  them,  or  hear 

their  mournful  talk. 
Because  of  a  story  I  heard  under  the  thin  horn 
Of  the  third  moon,  that  hung  between  the 

night  and  the  day, 
To  dream  of  women  whose  beauty  was  folded 

in  dismay, 
Even  in  an  old  story,  is  a  burden  not  to  be 

borne. 


CHORUS  FOR  A  PLAY 

It  is  sung  at  the  entrance  of  Deirdre  into  the 
House  of  the  Red  Branch  by  certain  wander- 
ing musicians.  She  comes  to  the  threshold 
at  the  end  of  the  second  verse,  and  they,  seeing 
her  whispering  to  Naoise  who  is  beside  her, 
think  that  she  is  busy  with  her  love,  not 
knowing  that  she  is  hesitating  in  fear. 

First  Musician.  Why  is  it,  Queen  Edain 
said, 
If  I  do  but  climb  the  stair 
To  the  tower  overhead 
When  the  winds  are  calling  there, 

298 


CHORUS  FOR  A  PLAY  299 

Or  the  gannets  calling  out 
In  waste  places  of  the  sky, 
There's  so  much  to  think  about 
That  I  cry,  that  I  cry? 

Another  Musician.   But   her   goodman 
answered  her: 
Love  would  be  a  thing  of  naught 
Had  not  all  his  limbs  a  stir 
Born  out  of  immoderate  thought; 
Were  he  anything  by  half; 
Were  his  measures  running  dry. 
Lovers  if  they  may  not  laugh 
Have  to  cry,  have  to  cry. 

All  the  Musicians.   But  is  Edain  worth 
a  song 
Now  the  hunt  begins  anew  ? 
Praise  the  beautiful  and  strong, 


300  CHORUS  FOR  A  PLAY 

Praise  the  redness  of  the  yew, 
Praise  the  blossoming  apple  stem: 
Yet  our  silence  had  been  wise; 
What  is  all  our  praise  to  them 
That  have  one  another's  eyes  ? 


THE  PLAYERS  ASK  FOR  A  BLESSING 

ON  THE  PSALTERIES   AND 

THEMSELVES 

Three  Voices  Together.   Hurry  to  bless 
the  hands  that  play, 
The  mouths  that  speak,  the  notes  and  strings, 
0  masters  of  the  glittering  town ! 
0  !  lay  the  shrilly  trumpet  down, 
Though  drunken  with  the  flags  that  sway 
Over  the  ramparts  and  the  towers, 
And  with  the  waving  of  your  wings. 

First  Voice.   Maybe  they  linger  by  the 
way. 
One  gathers  up  his  purple  gown; 

301 


302      PLAYERS  ASK  FOR  A   BLESSING 

One  leans  and  mutters  by  the  wall  — 
He  dreads  the  weight  of  mortal  hours. 
Second  Voice.   0  no,  0  no !    they  hurry 
down 
Like  plovers  that  have  heard  the  call. 

Third  Voice.   0  kinsmen  of  the  Three  in 
One, 
0  kinsmen  bless  the  hands  that  play. 
The  notes  they  waken  shall  live  on 
When  all  this  heavy  history's  done ; 
Our  hands,  our  hands  must  ebb  away. 
Three  Voices  Together.   The  proud  and 
careless  notes  live  on, 
But  bless  our  hands  that  ebb  away. 


u^ 


w 


THE  HAPPY  TOWNLAND 

There's  many  a  strong  farmer 
Whose  heart  would  break  in  two, 
If  he  could  see  the  townland 
That  we  are  riding  to ; 
Boughs  have  their  fruit  and  blossom 
At  all  times  of  the  year; 
Rivers  are  running  over 
With  red  beer  and  brown  beer. 
An  old  man  plays  the  bagpipes 
In  a  golden  and  silver  wood ; 
Queens,  their  eyes  blue  like  the  ice, 
Are  dancing  in  the  crowd. 

303 


304  THE  EAPPT  TOWNLAND 

The  little  fox  he  murmured, 
"0  what  of  the  world's  bane?" 
The  sun  was  laughing  sweetly, 
The  moon  plucked  at  my  rein; 
But  the  little  red  fox  murmured, 
"  0  do  not  pluck  at  his  rein, 
He  is  riding  to  the  townland 
That  is  the  world's  bane." 


When  their  hearts  are  so  high 
That  they  would  come  to  blows, 
They  unhook  their  heavy  swords 
From  golden  and  silver  boughs; 
But  all  that  are  killed  in  battle 
Awaken  to  life  again : 
It  is  lucky  that  their  story 
Is  not  known  among  men. 


THE  HAPPY  TOWNLAND  305 

For  0,  the  strong  farmers 
That  would  let  the  spade  lie, 
Their  hearts  would  be  like  a  cup 
That  somebody  had  drunk  dry. 

The  little  fox  he  murmured, 
"0  what  of  the  world's  bane?" 
The  sun  was  laughing  sweetly, 
The  moon  plucked  at  my  rein  ; 
But  the  little  red  fox  murmured, 
"  0  do  not  pluck  at  his  rein, 
He  is  riding  to  the  townland 
That  is  the  world's  bane." 

Michael  will  unhook  his  trumpet 

From  a  bough  overhead, 

And  blow  a  little  noise 

When  the  supper  has  been  spread. 

VOL.   I.  — X 


306  THE  HAPPY   TOWN  LAND 

Gabriel  will  come  from  the  water 

With  a  fish  tail,  and  talk 

Of  wonders  that  have  happened 

On  wet  roads  where  men  walk, 

And  lift  up  an  old  horn 

Of  hammered  silver,  and  drink 

Till  he  has  fallen  asleep 

Upon  the  starry  brink. 

The  little  fox  he  murmured, 
"0  what  of  the  world's  bane?" 
The  sun  was  laughing  sweetly, 
The  moon  plucked  at  my  rein; 
But  the  little  red  fox  murmured, 
"  0  do  not  pluck  at  his  rein, 
He  is  riding  to  the  townland 
That  is  the  world's  bane." 


THE  OLD  AGE  OF  QUEEN 
MAEYE 


THE  OLD  AGE  OF  QUEEN  MAEVE 

Maeve  the  great  queen  was  pacing  to  and  fro, 
Between  the  walls  covered  with  beaten  bronze, 
In  her  high  house  at  Cruachan;    the  long 

hearth, 
Flickering  with  ash  and  hazel,  but  half  showed 
Where   the   tired  horse-boys   lay   upon   the 

rushes, 
Or  on  the  benches  underneath  the  walls, 
In  comfortable  sleep ;  all  living  slept 
But  that  great  queen,  who  more  than  half 

the  night 
Had  paced  from  door  to  fire  and  fire  to  door. 
Though  now  in  her  old  age,  in  her  young  age 

309 


310      THE  OLD  AGE  OF  QUEEN  MAEVE 

She  had  been  beautiful  in  that  old  way 
That's  all  but  gone;   for  the  proud  heart  is 

gone, 
And  the  fool  heart  of  the  counting-house  fears 

all 
But  soft  beauty  and  indolent  desire. 
She  could  have  called  over  the  rim  of  the  world 
Whatever  woman's  lover  had  hit  her  fancy, 
And  yet  had  been  great  bodied  and  great 

limbed, 
Fashioned  to  be  the  mother  of  strong  children ; 
And  she'd  had  lucky  eyes  and  a  high  heart, 
And  wisdom  that  caught  fire  like  the  dried 

flax, 
At  need,  and  made  her  beautiful  and  fierce, 
Sudden  and  laughing. 

0  unquiet  heart, 


THE  OLD  AGE  OF  QUEEN  MAEVE     311 

Why  clo  you  praise  another,  praising  her, 
As  if  there  were  no  tale  but  your  own  tale 
Worth  knitting  to  a  measure  of  sweet  sound  ? 
Have  I  not  bid  you  tell  of  that  great  queen 
Who  has  been  buried  some   two   thousand 
years  ? 

When  night  was  at  its  deepest,  a  wild  goose 
Cried  from  the  porter's  lodge,  and  with  long 

clamour 
Shook  the  ale  horns  and  shields  upon  their 

hooks ; 
But  the  horse-boys  slept  on,  as  though  some 

power 
Had  filled  the  house  with  Druid  heaviness; 
And  wondering  who  of  the  many  changing 

Sidhe 


312      THE  OLD  AGE  OF  QUEEN  MAEVE 

Had  come  as  in  the  old  times  to  counsel  her, 
Maeve  walked,  yet  with  slow  footfall,  being 

old, 
To  that  small  chamber  by  the  outer  gate. 
The  porter  slept,  although  he  sat  upright 
With  still  and  stony  limbs  and  open  eyes. 
Maeve  waited,   and  when  that  ear-piercing 

noise 
Broke  from  his  parted  lips  and  broke  again, 
She  laid  a  hand  on  either  of  his  shoulders, 
And  shook  him  wide  awake,  and  bid  him  say 
Who  of  the  wandering  many-changing  ones 
Had  troubled  his  sleep.     But  all  he  had  to 

say 
Was  that,  the  air  being  heavy  and  the  dogs 
More  still  than  they  had  been  for  a  good 

month, 


THE  OLD  AGE  OF  QUEEN  MAEVE     313 

He  had  fallen  asleep,  and,   though  he  had 

dreamed  nothing, 
He  could  remember  when  he  had  had  fine 

dreams. 
It  was  before  the  time  of  the  great  war 
Over  the  White-Horned  Bull,  and  the  Brown 

Bull. 

She  turned  away;  he  turned  again  to  sleep 
That  no  god  troubled  now,  and,  wondering 
What  matters  were  afoot  among  the  Sidhe, 
Maeve  walked  through  that  great  hall,  and 

with  a  sigh 
Lifted  the  curtain  of  her  sleeping  room, 
Remembering  that  she  too  had  seemed  divine 
To  many  thousand  eyes,  and  to  her  own 
One  that  the  generations  had  long  waited 


314      THE  OLD  AGE  OF  QUEEN  MAEVE 

That  work  too  difficult  for  mortal  hands 
Might  be  accomplished.     Bunching  the  cur- 
tain up 
She  saw  her  husband  Ailell  sleeping  there, 
And  thought  of  days  when  he'd  had  a  straight 

body, 
And  of  that  famous  Fergus,  Nessa's  husband, 
Who  had  been  the  lover  of  her  middle  life. 

Suddenly  Ailell  spoke  out  of  his  sleep, 

And  not  with  his  own  voice  or  a  man's  voice, 

But  with  the  burning,  live,  unshaken  voice 

Of  those  that  it  may  be  can  never  age. 

He   said,    "High    Queen    of   Cruachan    and 

Magh  Ai, 
A  king  of  the  Great  Plain  would  speak  with 

you." 


THE  OLD  AGE  OF  QUEEN  MAEVE     315 

And  with  glad  voice  Maeve  answered  him, 

"What  King 
Of  the  far  wandering  shadows  has  come  to 

me? 
As  in  the  old  days  when  they  would  come  and 

go 
About  my  threshold  to  counsel  and  to  help." 

The  parted  lips  replied,  "I  seek  your  help, 

For  I  am  Aengus,  and  I  am  crossed  in  love." 

"How  may  a  mortal  whose  life  gutters  out 
Help  them  that  wander  with  hand  clasping 

hand, 
Their  haughty  images  that  cannot  wither 
For  all  their  beauty's  like  a  hollow  dream, 
Mirrored  in  streams  that  neither  hail  nor  rain 
Nor  the  cold  North  has  troubled?" 


316      THE  OLD  AGE  OF  QUEEN  MAEVE 

He  replied 
"I  am  from  those  rivers  and  I  bid  you  call 
The  children  of  the  Maines  out  of  sleep, 
And  set  them  digging  into  Anbual's  hill. 
We  shadows,  while  they  uproot  his  earthy 

house, 
Will  overthrow  his  shadows  and  carry  off 
Caer,  his  blue-eyed  daughter  that  I  love. 
I  helped  your  fathers  when  they  built  these 

walls, 
And  I  would  have  your  help  in  my  great  need, 
Queen  of  high  Cruachan." 

"  I  obey  your  will 
With  speedy  feet  and  a  most  thankful  heart : 
For  you  have  been,  0  Aengus  of  the  birds, 
Our  giver  of  good  counsel  and  good  luck." 
And  with  a  groan,  as  if  the  mortal  breath 


THE  OLD  AGE  OF  QUEEN  MAEVE     317 

Could  but  awaken  sadly  upon  lips 

That  happier  breath  had  moved,  her  husband 

turned 
Face  downward,  tossing  in  a  troubled  sleep ; 
But  Maeve,  and  not  with  a  slow  feeble  foot, 
Came  to  the  threshold  of  the  painted  house, 
Where   her   grandchildren    slept,    and    cried 

aloud, 
Until  the  pillared  dark  began  to  stir 
With  shouting  and  the  clang  of  unhooked 

arms. 

She  told  them  of  the  many-changing  ones ; 
And  all  that  night,  and  all  through  the  next 

day 
To  middle  night,  they  dug  into  the  hill. 
At  middle  night  great  cats  with  silver  claws, 


318      THE  OLD  AGE  OF  QUEEN  MAEVE 

Bodies  of  shadow  and  blind  eyes  like  pearls, 
Came  up  out  of  the  hole,  and  red-eared  hounds 
With  long  white  bodies  came  out  of  the  air 
Suddenly,  and  ran  at  them  and  harried  them. 

The  Maines'  children  dropped  their  spades, 

and  stood 
With  quaking  joints  and  terror  strucken  faces, 
Till  Maeve  called  out:   "These  are  but  com- 
mon men. 
The  Maines'  children  have  not  dropped  their 

spades, 
Because  Earth,  crazy  for  its  broken  power, 
Casts  up  a  show  and  the  winds  answer  it 
With  holy  shadows."     Her  high  heart  was 

glad, 
And  when  the  uproar  ran  along  the  grass 


THE  OLD  AGE  OF  QUEEN  MAEVE     319 

She  followed  with  light  footfall  in  the  midst, 
'Till  it  died  out  where  an  old  thorn  tree  stood. 

Friend  of  these  many  years,   you   too  had 

stood 
With  equal  courage  in  that  whirling  rout ; 
For  you,  although  you've  not  her  wandering 

heart, 
Have  all  that  greatness,  and  not  hers  alone. 
For  there  is  no  high  story  about  queens 
In  any  ancient  book  but  tells  of  you ; 
And  when  I've  heard  how  they  grew  old  and 

died, 
Or  fell  into  unhappiness,  I've  said : 
"She  will   grow  old  and   die,   and  she  has 

wept!" 
And  when  I'd  write  it  out  anew,  the  words, 


320      THE  OLD  AGE  OF  QUEEN  M A  EVE 

Half  crazy  with  the  thought,  She  too  has 

wept! 
Outrun  the  measure. 

I'd  tell  of  that  great  queen 
Who  stood  amid  a  silence  by  the  thorn 
Until  two  lovers  came  out  of  the  air 
With  bodies  made  out  of  soft  fire.     The  one, 
About  whose  face  birds  wagged  their  fiery 

wings, 
Said:  "Aengus  and  his  sweetheart  give  their 

thanks 
To  Maeve  and  to  Maeve's  household,  owing 

aU 
In   owing    them    the    bride-bed    that   gives 

peace." 
Then  Maeve :  "0  Aengus,  Master  of  all  lovers, 
A  thousand  years  ago  you  held  high  talk 


THE  OLI>  AGE  OF  QUEEN  MAEVE     321 

With  the  first  kings  of  many  pillared  Cruachan. 
0  when  will  you  grow  weary?" 

They  had  vanished ; 
But  out  of  the  dark  air  over  her  head  there 

came 
A  murmur  of  soft  words  and  meeting  lips. 


VOL.  I. T 


BAILE   AND   AILLINN 


BAILE  AND  AILLINN 

Argument.  Baile  and  Aillinn  were  lovers,  but 
Aengus,  the  Master  of  Love,  wishing  them  to 
be  happy  in  his  own  land  among  the  dead, 
told  to  each  a  story  of  the  other's  death,  so 
that  their  hearts  were  broken  and  they  died. 

I  hardly  hear  the  curlew  cry, 
Nor  the  grey  rush  when  the  wind  is  high, 
Before  my  thoughts  begin  to  run 
On  the  heir  of  Ulad,  Buan's  son, 
Baile,  who  had  the  honey  mouth ; 
And  that  mild  woman  of  the  south, 
Aillinn,  who  was  King  Lugaid's  heir. 
Their  love  was  never  drowned  in  care 

325 


326  BAILE  AND  AIL  LINN 

Of  this  or  that  thing,  nor  grew  cold 
Because  their  bodies  had  grown  old. 
Being  forbid  to  marry  on  earth, 
They  blossomed  to  immortal  mirth. 

About  the  time  when  Christ  was  born, 
When  the  long  wars  for  the  White  Horn 
And  the  Brown  Bull  had  not  yet  come, 
Young  Baile  Honey-Mouth,  whom  some 
Called  rather  Baile  Little-Land, 
Rode  out  of  Emain  with  a  band 
Of  harpers  and  young  men ;  and  they 
Imagined,  as  they  struck  the  way 
To  many  pastured  Muirthemne, 
That  all  things  fell  out  happily, 
And  there,  for  all  that  fools  had  said, 
Baile  and  Aillinn  would  be  wed. 


BAILE  AND  AILLINN  327 

They  found  an  old  man  running  there : 
He  had  ragged  long  grass-coloured  hair; 
He  had  knees  that  stuck  out  of  his  hose; 
He  had  puddle  water  in  his  shoes ; 
He  had  half  a  cloak  to  keep  him  dry, 
Although  he  had  a  squirrel's  eye. 

0  wandering  birds  and  rushy  beds, 
You  put  such  folly  in  our  heads 
With  all  this  crying  in  the  wind; 
No  common  love  is  to  our  mind, 
And  our  poor  Kate  or  Nan  is  less 
Than  any  whose  unhappiness 
Awoke  the  harp-strings  long  ago. 
Yet  they  that  know  all  things  but  know 
That  all  life  had  to  give  us  is 
A  child's  laughter,  a  woman's  kiss. 


328  BAILE  AND  AILLINN 

Who  was  it  put  so  great  a  scorn 
In  the  grey  reeds  that  night  and  morn 
Are  trodden  and  broken  by  the  herds, 
And  in  the  light  bodies  of  birds 
That  north  wind  tumbles  to  and  fro 
And  pinches  among  hail  and  snow  f 

That  runner  said :  "I  am  from  the  south : 

I  run  to  Baile  Honey-Mouth, 

To  tell  him  how  the  girl  Aillinn 

Rode  from  the  country  of  her  kin, 

And  old  and  young  men  rode  with  her : 

For  all  that  country  had  been  astir 

If  anybody  half  as  fair 

Had  chosen  a  husband  anywhere 

But  where  it  could  see  her  every  day. 

When  they  had  ridden  a  little  way 


BAILE  AND  AILLINN  329 

An  old  man  caught  the  horse's  head 

With :  '  You  must  home  again,  and  wed 

With  somebody  in  your  own  land.' 

A  young  man  cried  and  kissed  her  hand, 

'  0  lady,  wed  with  one  of  us ; ' 

And  when  no  face  grew  piteous 

For  any  gentle  thing  she  spake, 

She  fell  and  died  of  the  heart-break." 

Because  a  lover's  heart's  worn  out, 
Being  tumbled  and  blown  about 
By  its  own  blind  imagining, 
And  will  believe  that  anything 
That  is  bad  enough  to  be  true,  is  true, 
Baile's  heart  was  broken  in  two ; 
And  he  being  laid  upon  green  boughs, 
Was  carried  to  the  goodly  house 


330  BAILE  AND  AILLINN 

Where  the  Hound  of  Ulad  sat  before 

The  brazen  pillars  of  his  door, 

His  face  bowed  low  to  weep  the  end 

Of  the  harper's  daughter  and  her  friend. 

For  although  years  had  passed  away 

He  always  wept  them  on  that  day, 

For  on  that  day  they  had  been  betrayed ; 

And  now  that  Honey-Mouth  is  laid 

Under  a  cairn  of  sleepy  stone 

Before  his  eyes,  he  has  tears  for  none, 

Although  he  is  carrying  stone,  but  two 

For  whom  the  cairn's  but  heaped  anew. 

We  hold  because  our  memory  is 
So  full  of  that  thing  and  of  this 
That  out  of  sight  is  out  of  mind. 
But  the  grey  rush  under  the  wind 


BAILE  AND  AILLINN  331 

And  the  grey  bird  with  crooked  bill 

Have  such  long  memories,  that  they  still 

Remember  Deirdre  and  her  man; 

And  when  we  walk  with  Kate  or  Nan 

About  the  windy  water  side, 

Our  heart  can  hear  the  voices  chide. 

How  could  we  be  so  soon  content, 

Who  know  the  way  that  Naoise  went  ? 

And  they  have  news  of  Deirdre' 's  eyes, 

Who  being  lovely  was  so  wise  — 

Ah !  wise,  my  heart  knows  well  how  wise. 

Now  had  that  old  gaunt  crafty  one, 
Gathering  his  cloak  about  him,  run 
Where  Aillinn  rode  with  waiting  maids, 
Who  amid  leafy  lights  and  shades 
Dreamed  of  the  hands  that  would  unlace 


332  BAILE  AND  AILLINN 

Their  bodices  in  some  dim  place 

When  they  had  come  to  the  marriage  bed ; 

And  harpers,  pondering  with  bowed  head 

A  music  that  had  thought  enough 

Of  the  ebb  of  all  things  to  make  love 

Grow  gentle  without  sorrowings  ; 

And  leather-coated  men  with  slings 

Who  peered  about  on  every  side ; 

And  amid  leafy  light  he  cried : 

"He  is  well  out  of  wind  and  wave; 

They  have  heaped  the  stones  above  his  grave 

In  Muirthemne,  and  over  it 

In  changeless  Ogham  letters  writ  — 

Baile,  that  was  of  Rury's  seed. 

But  the  gods  long  ago  decreed 

No  waiting  maid  should  ever  spread 


BAILE  AND  AILLINN  333 

Baile  and  Aillinn's  marriage  bed, 
For  they  should  clip  and  clip  again 
Where  wild  bees  hive  on  the  Great  Plain. 
Therefore  it  is  but  little  news 
That  put  this  hurry  in  my  shoes." 

And  hurrying  to  the  south,  he  came 
To  that  high  hill  the  herdsmen  name 
The  Hill  Seat  of  Leighin,  because 
Some  god  or  king  had  made  the  laws 
That  held  the  land  together  there, 
In  old  times  among  the  clouds  of  the  air. 

That  old  man  climbed ;  the  day  grew  dim : 
Two  swans  came  flying  up  to  him, 
Linked  by  a  gold  chain  each  to  each, 
And  with  low  murmuring  laughing  speech 


334  BAILE  AND  AILLINN 

Alighted  on  the  windy  grass. 
They  knew  him :  his  changed  body  was 
Tall,  proud  and  ruddy,  and  light  wings 
Were  hovering  over  the  harp-strings 
That  Etain,  Midhir's  wife,  had  wove 
In  the  hid  place,  being  crazed  by  love. 

What  shall  I  call  them  ?  fish  that  swim, 

Scale  rubbing  scale  where  light  is  dim 

By  a  broad  water-lily  leaf; 

Or  mice  in  the  one  wheaten  sheaf 

Forgotten  at  the  threshing  place ; 

Or  birds  lost  in  the  one  clear  space 

Of  morning  light  in  a  dim  sky ; 

Or,  it  may  be,  the  eyelids  of  one  eye, 

Or  the  door  pillars  of  one  house, 

Or  two  sweet  blossoming  apple  boughs 


BAILE  AND  AILLINN  335 

That  have  one  shadow  on  the  ground ; 
Or  the  two  strings  that  made  one  sound 
Where  that  wise  harper's  finger  ran. 
For  this  young  girl  and  this  young  man 
Have  happiness  without  an  end, 
Because  they  have  made  so  good  a  friend. 

They  know  all  wonders,  for  they  pass 
The  towery  gates  of  Gorias, 
And  Findrias  and  Falias, 
And  long-forgotten  Murias, 
Among  the  giant  kings  whose  hoard 
Cauldron  and  spear  and  stone  and  sword 
Was  robbed  before  Earth  gave  the  wheat ; 
Wandering  from  broken  street  to  street 
They  come  where  some  huge  watcher  is, 
And  tremble  with  their  love  and  kiss. 


336  BAILE  AND   AILLINN 

They  know  undying  things,  for  they 
Wander  where  earth  withers  away, 
Though  nothing  troubles  the  great  streams 
But  light  from  the  pale  stars,  and  gleams 
From    the   holy   orchards,    where    there    is 

none 
But  fruit  that  is  of  precious  stone, 
Or  apples  of  the  sun  and  moon. 

What  were  our  praise  to  them :  they  eat 
Quiet's  wild  heart,  like  daily  meat, 
Who  when  night  thickens  are  afloat 
On  dappled  skins  in  a  glass  boat, 
Far  out  under  a  windless  sky ; 
While  over  them  birds  of  Aengus  fly, 
And  over  the  tiller  and  the  prow, 
And  waving  white  wings  to  and  fro 


BAILE  AND  AILLINN  337 

Awaken  wanderings  of  light  air 
To  stir  their  coverlet  and  their  hair. 

And  poets  found,  old  writers  say, 

A  yew  tree  where  his  body  lay ; 

But  a  wild  apple  hid  the  grass 

With  its  sweet  blossom  where  hers  was ; 

And  being  in  good  heart,  because 

A  better  time  had  come  again 

After  the  deaths  of  many  men, 

And  that  long  fighting  at  the  ford, 

They  wrote  on  tablets  of  thin  board, 

Made  of  the  apple  and  the  yew, 

All  the  love  stories  that  they  knew. 

Let  rush  and  bird  cry  out  their  fill 
Of  the  harper's  daughter  if  they  will, 

VOL.  I,  —  z 


338  BAILE  AND  AILLINN 

Beloved,  I  am  not  afraid  of  her. 

She  is  not  wiser  nor  lovelier, 

And  you  are  more  high  of  heart  than  she, 

For  all  her  wanderings  over-sea ; 

But  I'd  have  birds  and  rush  forget 

Those  other  two;  for  never  yet 

Has  lover  lived,  but  longed  to  wive 

Like  them  that  are  no  more  alive. 


BY  THE  SAME  AUTHOR 


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